Hoonah Lawsuit Going To Trial Early Next Fall

A lawsuit stemming from the murder of two Hoonah police officers may go to trial on September 16, 2014.

A court officer and some of the attorneys in the case tentatively set the date during a brief hearing in Juneau Superior Court on Tuesday.

Downtown Hoonah. Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska - Juneau.
Downtown Hoonah. Photo by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau.

Haley Tokuoka, widow of Hoonah Officer Matthew Tokuoka, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city alleging negligence by both his co-worker and the city administration.

The civil suit was filed on August 17, 2012 and just a few months before John N. Marvin, Jr.’s trial in the criminal case in which the Hoonah resident was eventually convicted of murder in the deaths of Tokuoka and Sargent Tony Wallace. Jurors believed that Marvin gunned down both officers as they socialized with family members on Hoonah’s Front Street on August 28, 2010. Marvin remained in his house and did not surrender to authorities until over a day after the shooting.

On April 5, 2013, Marvin was sentenced to two consecutive 99-year prison terms for the deaths of both officers.

Haley Tokuoka’s civil lawsuit alleges that Wallace was negligent in breaching his duty of care to the Tokuoka family. She also alleges negligent training and supervision, negligent infliction of emotional stress, and loss of consortium or essentially the loss of Matthew’s companionship and support. She also alleges breach of contract because of benefits like life insurance that allegedly were not provided. Juneau attorney Mark Choate is seeking general damages in excess of $100,000 and special damages for medical and burial expenses, loss of Tokuoka’s earnings, interest, and attorneys’ fees.

response subsequently filed by the City of Hoonah asserts that Wallace was not negligent and did not cause the damage claimed by Haley Tokuoka. It also asked that Tokuoka’s lawsuit against the city be dismissed, and any fault or award of damages be allocated to Marvin.

Marvin has been named as a third party co-defendant in the case, but he may default out of the case since he has not responded to service.

Superior Court Master Jim Curtain and defendant attorneys Leslie Longenbaugh and Frank Koziol agreed to the mid-September trial date based on a signed planning document and the availability of Superior Court Judge Louis Menendez who will likely be hearing the case. It’s expected that the trial will last five days. Other benchmark pre-trial dates and deadlines will have to be set later as Choate was a no-show at Tuesday’s hearing.