Woman sues Japanese billionaire known for rent-free mansions - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Woman sues Japanese billionaire known for rent-free mansions

Richard Turbin Richard Turbin
Deborah Ramirez Deborah Ramirez

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

KAHALA (KHNL) - A Japanese billionaire who's been in the spotlight for letting native hawaiian families live in his Kahala mansions, rent-free, is under legal fire.

A woman is suing him after she tripped and fell at one of his properties. She claims it was a safety hazard.

"I fell on my elbow and my knee onto this broken wall and then from there, I fell onto my back onto the property," said Deborah Ramirez of Maili.

On Thursday, Ramirez took an uneasy step back in time.

"I stepped over the palm frond and hidden beneath the palm frond was a shard from this broken wall," she said.

It happened in march at this empty Kahala home, which Japanese investor Genshiro Kawamoto owns.

Ramirez's attorney says Kawamoto has a track record of letting all of his properties decay and deteriorate.

"It's a universal neglect. I mean, if he just neglected one house, it wouldn't be so strange but he has neglected all of them," said attorney Richard Turbin.

Including, he claims, the multi-million dollar homes Kawamoto lets low-income Hawaiian families live in.

"Right across the street where a very nice Hawaiian family is living he tore down the wall and there was kind of sharp blunt rebar sticking out. Easy for the kids there to get hurt or for a passerby to get hurt," said Turbin.

When asked if the lawsuit is just an attempt to dig into deep pockets, Ramirez said, "what we're asking for is not that much. And if anybody wants to see the photos from my injuries or my medical records they're welcome to it."

Her attorney won't show photos of her injuries. But Turbin says so far, she's racked up $10,000 to $15,000 in medical bills.

Ramirez says she suffered a knee, elbow, and a permanent injured disc. Kawamoto couldn't be reached for comment.

"I know he has people that can do it so I try not to get involved if I don't have to but if me and my girls are free, we go in and clean the yards," said renter, Dorie Ann Kahale.

The native Hawaiian families living in the homes continue to be grateful of Kawamoto's generosity. One home has a banner hanging, showing the families' appreciation.

But one resident tells KHNL News 8, the properties aren't looking so great. In fact, she says they've taken it upon themselves to help clean up the homes.

"I know he has people that can do it so I try not to get involved if I don't have to but if me and my girls are free, we go in and clean the yards," Dorie Ann Kahale.

Ramirez's lawyer alleges Kawamoto is trying to devalue his properties on purpose so he can buy more Kahala homes at cheaper prices.

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