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Kapolei Dust Lawsuit Settled for $2 Million


By Rob Perez

HONOLULU – Contractors and others involved in building Kapolei subdivision have agreed to kick in $2.1 million to solve a dusty old problem.

And once the dust settles from the three-year dispute, affected homeowners could get thousands of dollars in compensation.

Homeowners who filed a class-action lawsuit in late 1993 over dust problems at Kumu Iki, the first subdivision in the state planned Villages of Kapolei, have reached an out-of-court settlement with several contractors involved in construction and grading

The state, also named as a defendant, agreed to the settlement as well.

The proposed deal, which would establish a $2.1 million fund to compensate homeowners affected by the dust problems, still must be approved by the court. If it were, the lawsuit would be dismissed.

Kumu Iki homeowners alleged that people in the 519-unit subdivision suffered from respiratory problems and property damage because of heavy dust kicked up from nearby construction.

“We think (the proposed settlement) is a very good result for the homeowners,” said attorney Thomas Grande, whose firm represents them.

The defendants, including Oahu Construction Co. and the state Housing Finance and Development Corp., Kapolei’s master developer, have denied any wrongdoing.

Attorney Marie Sheldon, who represents Oahu Construction, said the parties decided to settle to spare the cost of continuing litigation. But the settlement isn’t an admission of guilt, and the company continues to deny any wrongdoing, Sheldon said.

Circuit Judge Kevin S.C. Chang is scheduled to hold a hearing Jan. 13 on the proposed settlement.

To receive any money, affected homeowners must submit claims by Feb. 17, 1997, showing they suffered from the dust problem.

Some of the expenses they can submit claims for include medical treatment, painting, carpet cleaning and replacement, sidewalk sand blasting and air-conditioning installation, according to settlement documents.

About 280 homeowners potentially can file claims, Grande said. The other 200-plus Kumu Iki homeowners already have reached individual settlements, he added.

The amount that would be distributed to homeowners would depend on how many file claims and how much is left from the settlement fund after expenses are paid.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys are entitled to receive up to one-third of the $2.1 million for their fees. The court will decide on the amount.

The proposed settlement would not affect a similar lawsuit filed by homeowners in Malanai, another Kapolei village. That case is pending.