Hawaii Hilton Sues Contractors Over Mold

Thu April 24, 2003 - National Edition

HONOLULU (AP) _ Hilton Hotels is suing 18 companies and individuals over mold infestation that has closed the $95 million Kalia Tower for nearly a year.

The hotel is blaming architects, engineers, construction companies and inspection firms for the massive mold problem at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, one of the largest hotels in the world.

In the lawsuit, Hilton said it found numerous design and construction defects that contributed to excessive humidity that allowed the mold the grow.

The mold forced Hilton to close the 453-room tower, which opened in May 2001, and undertake a $55 million cleanup. The tower has been closed since July 2002 and isn’t expected to reopen before this July.

The suit filed in Circuit Court on Monday seeks unspecified damages for breach of contract, negligence, breach of good faith and fair dealing, as well as other counts.

Some of the firms are being sued for unjust enrichment, negligent design and manufacturing, and for sale of defective products.

The design companies being sued are architects Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo Inc.; engineering consultants Notkin Hawaii Inc., Ferris & Hamig Hawaii Inc. and Douglas V. MacMahon Inc.; and consultant Frank Lum.

The construction-related companies that were sued are Group Builders Inc., Air Balance Hawaii Inc., Dorvin D. Leis Co., Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc., Dryvit Systems Inc., Brewer Environmental Industries LLC, Special Inspection Consultants Inc., Caulking Hawaii Inc., International Environmental Corp., the Erection Co., A-1 A-Lectricians Inc., Kawneer Co. and Kevin Y.F. Chong.

Hilton said it plans to seek action against the tower’s general contractor, Hawaiian Dredging Construction Co., but the hotel must seek separate approval to do so because of the bankruptcy of the firm’s former owner, Dillingham Construction.

After closing the Kalia Tower, several design and construction defects were discovered that were ”substantial factors’ that led to the proliferation of mold, the lawsuit said. The tower, as designed, basically acted as a giant vacuum that sucked in humid outside air because of low internal pressure.