A&B sued over harvested rocks

LIHUE — Partners in a now defunct company are suing Alexander & Baldwin, A&B, for allegedly locking them out of their worksite and holding their property.

Theodore Blake, of Koloa, Stacy Moniz, of Kaneohe, and Dexter Gomes, of Ewa Beach, filed a civil complaint for an injunction and damages against A&B on July 22 in 5th Circuit Court. The plaintiffs are successors in interest to Kawahinehelelani Inc., a dissolved Hawaii corporation that entered into a license agreement with A&B on Aug. 1, 1991.

The agreement was to rent a portion of real property at Kukui’ula in the Poipu area, for the purpose of propagation of moss and lichen on pahoehoe lava rock, and to conduct rock harvesting. In return, the plaintiffs agreed to rent and to supply A&B with a portion of the harvested rocks.

“There were a lot of rocks piled up from the sugar plantation, and they were bulldozed into big piles,” Blake said in a phone interview Monday. “When they started doing development they were going to just bury them, and I said ‘what if someone harvested?’”

Sometime in late 1992, the plaintiffs claim to have harvested 24,000 cubic yards of rock when they were locked out of their yard by A&B’s general contractor, Kiewit Construction Company. They allege this was done in part to take possession of all of the harvested rocks, and to prevent plaintiff workers from witnessing the destruction of an archaeological site.

The plaintiffs claim their rocks and equipment were essentially seized by A&B, when, after several attempts, they were denied access to the site to continue their business.

Blake and Moniz filed a complaint with the Kauai Police Department after alleging that A&B considered the rock and equipment as “abandoned” in the yard. They said offers to pay storage costs and any back rent to retrieve the rock were refused.

A&B continued to send invoices for back rent until December 2013. Moniz made good faith payments of $100.

The nine count complaint also includes counts of injunctive relief, negligence, unjust enrichment, breach of contract, misrepresentation, good faith and fair dealing.

A&B spokeswoman Suzy Hollinger said the company couldn’t comment on the matter. 

Blake is also director of Hui Malama o Koloa. The nonprofit organization works to preserve Hawaiian culture. He is party to another suit regarding the Hapa Trail preservation, alleging the county and state failed to protect historic sites and Native Hawaiian rights, among other complaints.

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