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Lawsuit: Hawaii official's business damaged land

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LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — A Kauai man is suing the chairwoman of the state Public Utilities Commission, saying she damaged his property while illegally running a bed and breakfast on the island's north shore.

Michael Sheehan of Hanalei filed a lawsuit against Hermina Morita and her husband last week, accusing them of nuisance, negligence and violating state law, The Garden Island reported (http://bit.ly/UmPCnk ).

Morita told The Associated Press on Tuesday that she wasn't prepared to comment on the substance of the lawsuit because she has not been served with the claim, had not seen the newspaper report and was not previously aware of the lawsuit.

State officials fined Morita and her husband, Lance Laney, $31,000 in May for building and operating the bed and breakfast without proper permits or permission. The 3.2-acre getaway was within a protected subzone of the state.

Sheehan says the construction modified the flow of the Hanalei River, causing his property downriver to flood periodically.

"There's just been a plethora of ridiculous, unenforced violations of law, and I'm tired of it," he said.

The lawsuit says Morita should have known that the construction would hurt the river's flow.

Laney told The Garden Island in May that Sheehan's account of the breach is "twisted."

"Every study that was conducted by the state and their accredited professionals proved that this breach was, in fact, natural," he said.

Sheehan is also suing Kauai County, alleging it conspired to cover up the couple's illegal activity. Kauai County officials declined to comment beyond saying they had yet to be served Sheehan's complaint.

Sheehan said he wants the court to order the county to enforce its laws.

"Time is up, that's all," he said. "The environment can't wait any longer."

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Information from: The Garden Island, http://thegardenisland.com/

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