Renters file suit over development

LIHUE — Former renters of Kauai Kalani Apartments near Lydgate Park are suing condo developers for unlawful evictions and retaliation in 5th Circuit Court.

The 17-count civil action filed Jan. 7 includes allegations of negligence, retaliatory eviction, breach of contract and good faith and unfair and deceptive practices, among others. The suit aims to recover damages for physical injuries, mental suffering, and economic losses suffered by the plaintiffs.

Attorney Michael Green is representing the plaintiff tenants, Ben Herr, Sheila Heu, Jose Villarin, Joseph Chae, Sharron Chae, Erika Schneider and her three minor children. They are suing Chad Waters of Bridge Real Estate (BPG Hawaii), Larry Mayo of Castle Resorts and Hotels, GCT Properties, Kauai Kai Associates, Kawakami Builders, and County of Kauai Public Works.

The plaintiffs resided at the multifamily residential apartment complex, 4-856 Kuhio Highway in Lihue, in 2012, according to the suit. That same year KKA sold the apartments to the real estate development company GCT, and Waters began a condo conversion of the property. It required rehabilitation of each unit to prepare them for sale.

The suit states the tenants had valid rental agreements but received 45-day eviction notices in violation of the state’s 120-day law. It states that the first phase of the condo conversion of Kailani I occurred in November 2012 with general contractor CKB. Kailani II second phase started in January 2013. Demolition and construction started prior to the 120-day notice and while four of the 20 units were still occupied. The demolition created noise and dust that was a hazard to physical and mental health and in violation of state Department of Health fugitive dust laws.

The plaintiffs reported the work to Kauai Building Division and a stop-work order was issued for lack of appropriate permits. The defendants claim work continued in violation of the order.

The suit claims that construction workers harassed tenants and that calls to police and county did not stop the work. The complaint states the construction company filed police reports against the tenants and claims they are false.

A Kauai Community Health Center physician treated plaintiff Erika Schneider and her three minor children with steroid and beta-agonists for serious respiratory illness and cautioned against further exposure to concrete dust or risk hospitalization. The children missed a combined three weeks of school, the suit states.

The case is not yet assigned to a judge and no hearings have been scheduled.

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