Luquin’s sues Lloyd’s for nonpayment of fire claim

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Firefighters continued to douse hotspots on Jan. 17, 2017, after a night-time blaze gutted the historic Akebono Theater and Luquin's Mexican Restaurant in downtown Pahoa.

HILO — Luquin’s Mexican Restaurant has filed suit against Lloyd’s of London and Monarch E&S Insurance Services alleging the insurer hasn’t paid a claim filed after a fire gutted the popular downtown Pahoa eatery and the adjacent Akebono Theater.

The civil suit was filed in Hilo Circuit Court by attorney Steve Strauss on Jan. 16, two years to the day after the blaze destroyed the restaurant and century-old theater and left the Pahoa community in shock.

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The suit seeks payment of the replacement cost of the buildings under the insurance policy and unspecified damages for “negligence, insurance bad faith and violation of” the Hawaii law against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in commerce.

“The problem is, under their contract, there is a two-year provision in which you must sue them, regardless of the status of the claim, although under state law the statute of limitations is longer,” Strauss said Tuesday. Strauss said the policy’s clause is “likely not enforceable, but it triggers lawsuits while you still have claim disputes.”

“We’re hopeful we can negotiate a resolution,” he added.

The claim involves the property at 15-2942A Pahoa Village Road, where the restaurant and theater, both owned by chef-restaurateur Salvador Luquin, were located. The facades of both buildings remained after the fire, but were later razed in the interest of safety.

The complaint states that since the fire Luquin “has been attempting to obtain payment of the amounts owed for the loss/claim, including the replacement cost … calculated at $225,991.80, more or less.”

According to county tax records at the time of the fire, the Akebono-Luquin’s property was valued at $380,100, including a market building value of $174,000.

According to the suit, Luquin’s “efforts to rebuild/replace have been impaired by circumstances beyond its control, including a governmental declared state of emergency covering Pahoa that resulted from the volcanic eruption that began on … May 3, 2018, and continued for several months.”

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Strauss said Luquin’s lawsuit isn’t related to the number of lava-related civil suits — including one in federal court — filed against Lloyd’s by Puna residents whose homes were destroyed during last year’s lower East Rift Zone eruption of Kilauea volcano.

Luquin opened a food truck after the fire. He also opened a brick-and-mortar location on Kahakai Boulevard in Pahoa, according to a Jan. 17 Facebook post.

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