Lawsuit: Native Hawaiians force out Aspen crew
Native Hawaiians threatened a crew from a small Basalt construction company with violence and forced it to leave a worksite, according to a lawsuit against an Aspen developer.The lawsuit by 2 Framers Construction says it sent a crew to the island of Hawaii in January 2005 to work on a project at the Mauna Lani Resort, an exclusive beachfront housing development. The workers went as part of a subcontract with Aspen-based Resort Builders, which had the general construction contract with the resort’s owners, the lawsuit says.Four carpenters and a foreman went to the island on a 90-day contract but could not fulfill the last month because of the threats, according to the lawsuit.The lawsuit, filed Monday in Pitkin County District Court, requests a jury trial and seeks $80,000 in damages.Native Hawaiian workers on the site began harassing the out-of-towners for taking jobs that could have gone to other Hawaiians, said 2 Framers’ lawyer, Tim Whitsitt.”Here are guys taking food off the table [of Hawaiians],” he said. “There were specific threats of physical violence.”The Basalt crew worked at the site for two months of the three-month contract before being forced out.”They finished the work they were originally contracted to do,” Whitsitt said. “But there was a bonus provision in the contract that says if you stay a full 90 days, you’ll get extra compensation. There was other work they could’ve done, but they just had to leave.”Resort Builders did pay the crew its hourly wage, but the workers are seeking compensation for the hours they missed because of the threats. A message left with Resort Builders owner Frank Goldsmith was not returned Thursday.The lawsuit says the developer failed to provide adequate security or protection.
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