LIHUE — A Kauai company is suing the Board of Land and Natural Resources over a million dollars worth of sand.
A lawsuit filed in Fifth Circuit Court last month alleges the BLNR did not hold up its end of a contract with O. Thronas Inc., a Lawai concrete company, that claims it overpaid the board by more than $1 million in a contract to remove sand from BLNR-owned land in Waimea.
According to the lawsuit, O. Thronas successfully bid on a contract advertised by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources in 2009 for the right to pay for and remove 40,000 cubic yards of sand over the course of two years from land the BLNR intended to use as a sanctuary for water birds.
Payments for the sand were to be made monthly based on the amount of sand extracted from the property, but after work began in February 2011, O. Thronas’ civil complaint says procedures “for the removal and payment of the sand were not strictly followed by the parties, and the BLNR generally did not monitor, inquire about, or require removal of” the minimum amounts of sand under the contract.
The lawsuit says that over the course of the next two years, O. Thronas paid the BLNR the full amount stipulated by the contract — about $1.5 million — but was actually only able to remove about a third of the total amount due to “a sudden and significant downturn in the construction industry on Kauai.”
Consequently, the majority of the “money and sand remain in the BLNR’s possession,” according to the complaint, which states that O. Thronas overpaid the BLNR by a little over $1 million for sand it has not been allowed to remove.
At the end of the contract in February 2013, the company stopped its sand-removal operations “with the understanding that a right of entry would be granted within a couple of months” to allow the company to haul out the sand it had already paid for, but the BLNR has since refused to discuss the matter at its meetings, the lawsuit says.
Now, the BLNR “is contemplating offering new bids for sand mining licenses on the parcels,” according to the complaint.
“We want our sand, is what we want,” Scott Pingrey, an O. Thronas executive, said Tuesday. “We’re not suing them for money.”
The lawsuit seeks either a return of its advanced payments totaling $1,052,799, plus interest or a reasonable amount of time to remove the remaining 26,714 cubic yards of sand from the two land parcels.
Officials in the DLNR’s communications office have not responded to requests for comment.
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or email@example.com.