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State briefs for October 20

Settlement reached for hepatitis A lawsuit

HONOLULU (AP) — A preliminary settlement of up to $4.5 million has been reached in a class-action lawsuit for people exposed to hepatitis A but not sickened during a Hawaii outbreak in 2016.

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Seattle attorney Bill Marler announced the settlement Friday. A claim form must be submitted by Nov. 29. A final approval hearing will be held in December.

Those affected could receive $150 to $350, depending on their level of exposure.

Hawaii health officials identified raw scallops served at Genki Sushi restaurants on Oahu and Kauai as a likely source of the outbreak that infected nearly 300 people.

Numerous other lawsuits have been filed for those who got sick, including a woman who died.

Marler is handling more than 100 of those cases. He says all but a handful have settled.

Real estate firm buys Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui has been sold to an affiliate of the same investment group that purchased the Grand Wailea resort earlier this year.

Blackstone Real Estate Partners, an affiliate of Blackstone Group, closed this week on the 49-acre property that includes a 297-room hotel and 107 condominium residences. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

A joint venture that included Ares Management, SMW Hospitality and Trinity Real Estate Investments had purchased the property in 2016 for about $210 million, according to a Colliers International report.

The venture spent about $30 million in improvements to rooms, condos, the lobby and restaurants, the resort said earlier this year.

“We believe the outcome of this transaction reflects the significant value we were able to create over the hold period,” Sean Hehir, a managing partner for Trinity Investments, told The Maui News. “The deal is a perfect example of how we leverage our intimate local market knowledge and proven platform to generate compelling risk-adjusted returns on invested capital.”

The resort was built in 1992 by Maui Land & Pineapple Co, and it sold in 2006 to a joint venture that included the Gencom Group. Following major renovations in 2007 and then the recession, Gencom defaulted on its loan. Lenders foreclosed on the property in March 2011 with about $268 million owed.

Lehman later obtained the property and sold it to Woodridge Capital Partners and Colony Capital in February 2014 for $142 million, according to a Colliers International report. A Blackstone Group company purchased the 776-room Grand Wailea on Maui in April for a reported $1.1 billion.

Part-time Kauai resident to pay $40K for nene killings

LIHUE, Kauai (AP) — A part-time Kauai resident must pay more than $40,000 in fines for shooting and killing four of Hawaii’s endangered state birds with pellet gun.

Kauai prosecutors say an investigation by state and U.S. agencies showed that 72-year-old Steven Cookson shot four nene near his home in Kukuiula, a luxury resort development.

Prosecutors say Cookson pleaded no contest to five misdemeanor charges of taking an endangered or threatened species.

Cookson’s attorney, Michael Green, said Thursday his client just wanted to scare the birds that were defecating in his pool, yard and walkway.

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Green says Cookson “didn’t know a duck from a nene.”

Green says his client “humbly apologizes” to the people of Hawaii and would never hurt an endangered animal.