Ke Nani Kai residents receive $3.87 million jury award against condo association

| March 27, 2012 | 20 Comments

A view of the Ke Nani Kai condominiums from the pool and clubhouse area during a luau held in September of 2011.

A pattern of harassment and intimidation against the owners at Ke Nani Kai Condominium on the West End has led to an award for residents Jim and Nancy Bevill of $3.87 million from a Maui jury last Wednesday.

The $3.87 million award is a record judgment in this type of case, according to the Bevills attorney Terry Revere. He described the case as the “the West Molokai version of Lord of the Flies or the equivalent of a John Ford Western where an isolated town is run by a villain and his collection of thugs.” Revere said the intimidation lasted for at least six years and continued even after the lawsuit was filed.

The jury found the condominium association’s board of directors, and its employees and agents violated state condominium laws. They were also found to be engaged in a variety of illegal acts including racketeering, civil conspiracy, gross negligence, malicious prosecution, breach of contract, and both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Bevills moved to Molokai in 2004 from California and soon found themselves the target of threats, harassment and intimidation from unlicensed contractor Frank Maruzio and resident manager Darrel Borling, who hired Maruzio to do work around the complex.

Other Ke Nani Kai residents, including Darryl and Jody Canady and Bob Aldrich, had also complained about the behavior of Maruzio and Borling to the condo’s board of directors. The board’s failure to act on these complaints led to some of the previous board members being named in the Bevill lawsuit.

Jody Canady, who was called to testify during the eight-day trial on behalf of the Bevills, said one of the strongest pieces of evidence was a taped conversation of Borling yelling at her. She also said that Maruzio once tried to run her off the road and had threatened to kill her husband Darryl. At one point, the Canadys were so concerned for their welfare that they hired a private security guard service for a month. The couple had placed a temporary restraining order against Maruzio but never needed to enforce it.

Aldrich also described these problems that persisted over a period of five to six years. “They (Borling and Maruzio) were the neighborhood terrorists,” he said. Aldrich described numerous threats made against him, the Canadys and the Bevills. Aldrich said a witness saw Maruzio back his vehicle into Nancy Bevill’s SUV intentionally.

“The board wouldn’t do anything,” said Aldrich. “They would label us troublemakers and liars.”

Darryl Canady said a group of about 20-30 condo residents had gathered years ago to discuss these complaints but found the board unresponsive. Jody Canady said the Bevills wanted to settle this case before it went to trial if the board would file an injunction preventing Maruzio from returning to the property. “They just wouldn’t do it,” she said.

When Aldrich and the Bevills started to speak publicly about these incidents, the previous board of directors filed a lawsuit against them for slander. The case was summarily dismissed.

Now, some of those previous board members, including Phil Schutte, Bruce Blough and Michael Preiss are being held responsible for a portion of the monetary damages, according to the Canadys.

The judgment against the association means the 119 owners of the units may also be liable for the damages. Although the association has three different insurance policies, it is still unclear if the individual owners may have to pay.

“It’s still too early to tell (about damages),” said Jody Canady. “It may cost us some money but it sent a loud message to the current board of directors that this is not acceptable behavior. Every single condo complex needs to read this because this kind of thing does go on … We went through a disgusting ordeal. But we are glad to see it happen.”

Aldrich, who didn’t join the Bevills lawsuit because he couldn’t afford the $900,000 of attorney fees, was also pleased with the result.

“This is a wake up call for homeowner associations in Hawaii and across the country,” said Aldrich. “The state legislature gives board of directors too much authority. This is a hard way to deal with it but let’s hope it’s over now and we can move on.”

Category: Business, maui county, News

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  1. naturelover says:

    This place, island, never ceases to amaze me….

  2. kalaniua ritte says:

    greed greed greed…..

    • P Doremus says:

      Greed? Hardly, after all, I’ve lived with the same crap for years in my HOA, and I can personally tell you that there is no amount of money that would give me back my right to ‘peace of mind’. Think about that for a while!

  3. JT says:

    Congrats and thank you to the homeowners who had the courage to pursue justice! HOA’s are quai-governments without government controls, and once you’ve been burned by one, you NEVER want to live in one again. Every time an HOA loses in court, homeowners everywhere benefit and stand a better chance of winning back their rights someday.

    • sandra Helms says:

      I was so happy to read your comments Thank you so much.
      My dreamhouse in lahaina is gone now.Thanks to 2 terrifing B.O.D’s.
      We were stalked,chased,our vehicle damaged.We got a TRO on one of them(and won all court cost for wasting the courts time and ours.Discriminated against.Harrased to the max.Lied about so so much more….. we went to a shrink for help.I had only been home from the hospital for 6 days and chased by one of the BOD’d while the other just stood by and watched and laughed.I needed help as i do now……

  4. Suze Smith says:

    $900,000 in attorney fees? That is robbery!

  5. sandra Helms says:

    I want to say i just won a judgement for all my court cost and we had a TRO on one of the two Board members that bullied are still at the complex in Lahaina going on with their lives while we have had to move for our safety. I was chased and so bullied and stalked. Discrimnation as well.I am mexican and called “A dirty mexican”.Now we are looking for another lawyer so we can sue the association.
    This just happened. I was chased after having surgery back in may of this yr. contact me i want justice for all we have,we had to move and the expense is just plain unfair endured………………… Thank you ,HELP theres so much more to say

  6. Patty says:

    Same is happing in Napilihau

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