A Circuit Court judge threw out a lawsuit Tuesday that challenged Kauai County’s controversial cancellation of a contract with an Oahu-based services provider hired to operate a drug rehabilitation facility.

Chief Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano dismissed the case when the former director of Hope Treatment Services failed to respond, skipping out on a series of court dates. The company’s lawyer withdrew from the case in October.

The county built the $7 facility with taxpayer dollars n 2019. But its doors never opened for the center's intended purpose.
When Grove Farm donated nearly six acres to Kauai County in 2015, the land gift was specifically intended to host the island’s first inpatient drug treatment center since Hurricane Iniki wiped out the last one nearly 30 years ago. Brittany Lyte/Civil Beat/2022

The case had been headed for a jury trial in October 2023.

The court’s dismissal of the case vindicates the county’s position that it had the right to terminate contracts “when it becomes necessary,” Deputy County Attorney Mark Bradbury said in a prepared statement.

But the county’s failure to open the $7 million adolescent drug rehabilitation facility has been widely criticized, with the lawsuit over the contract cancellation marking one of many hiccups in the county’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get the facility up and running.

Kauai County canceled its contract with Hope Treatment Services to operate a new 16-bed youth rehabilitation center in the spring of 2020, citing problems with the company’s “performance and responsiveness.”

The ousted operator sued over the contract breach, alleging that the county unjustly benefited from the service provider’s investments in the building. The lawsuit alleged that Kauai County seized control of the $7 million taxpayer-funded inpatient adolescent treatment center and then repurposed the building as an isolation center for people infected with COVID-19, effectively barring Hope Treatment Services from the premises.

Built in 2019, the facility has never opened to help the drug-dependent youth it was built to serve.

Citing the building’s lack of productivity, Grove Farm, the development company that donated nearly six acres to the county to build the facility, took back ownership of the parcel in late September. The company has formed a new nonprofit corporation and director’s board to push forward a new renewed effort to open what would be the island’s only inpatient drug treatment center.

Currently, people grappling with drug dependency on Kauai must board an airplane to access intensive treatment.

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