Health, property damages sought; contractor grading blamed
By Jon Yoshishige Advertiser Staff Writer
HONOLULU – Four Kapolei residents have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of more than 500 of their neighbors, seeking monetary damages for health problems and property damage caused by dust.
“Many of the homeowners have permanently stained walls, ruined furniture and carpets, and all of our houses need repainting,” said Darlene Perry, 34, spokeswoman for the Dust Busters, a group of Kapolei homeowners that organized the suit.
They blame Oahu Construction Co., a contractor, for the “mass grading of over hundreds of acres of land in and around” the state’s master-planned community on the Ewa plain below Makakilo.
The Villages of Kapolei are being built in increments, but Perry and others say so much land was graded at one time that their village, Kumu Iki, has been surrounded by fields of red dirt since they moved in two years ago.
Under a city ordinance, the largest parcel that may be “opened for grubbing and grading” is 15 acres, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in Circuit Court on Tuesday.
But an attorney for Oahu Construction yesterday disputed the residents’ points.
City and state officials were “on site during all phases of construction” and never said Oahu Construction violated any laws, attorney Robert Richards said.
“We didn’t violate the state,” he said. “The procedures we followed were appropriate and correct.”
furthermore, said Richards, “We deny that Oahu Construction is responsible for damage that the plaintiffs may have sustained out there.”
When buying homes in the Kapolei area, homeowners were required to sign statements saying they wouldn’t make a fuss about construction dust.
But the residents now argue that the dust was much heavier than could be anticipated and led to excessive damage to new homes.
“They should have been a little more specific so we could have prepared ourselves,” said Jean Chan, 39, a Kapolei homemaker not named in the suit.
“They shouldn’t leave it up to you to find out (after you move in).”
The signed statements do not exonerate Oahu Construction in any “way, shape or form,” said Thomas Grande, the lawyer representing the homeowners. “The grading which took place was not something that people were told about.”
But Richards said that Oahu Construction denies it “created an unreasonable amount of dust.”
He said the company erected dust fences, used water trucks to wet the ground and instituted a good-neighbor program to work with the residents.