Kalima v. State of Hawaiʻi: What You Need to Know About the Lawsuit


This year, the State of Hawaiʻi agreed to settle Kalima v. State of Hawaiʻi, a decades-old class action lawsuit, and pay $328 million to more than 2,700 class members with valid claims.

The class members, also known as plaintiffs, who are part of the lawsuit are Hawaiian Home Lands Trust beneficiaries who filed a claim with the Native Hawaiian Claims Panel prior to 1995 for breaches of the trust they encountered between Aug. 21, 1959, and June 30, 1988.

The court has preliminarily certified the settlement and will be asked to give final approval on April 14, 2023. Class members with valid claims who did not already settle or opt out of the lawsuit will be eligible for a payment from the settlement.

A History of the Settlement

In 1988, the legislature passed a law allowing Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries the right to sue for breaches to the trust that they encountered that year and onward. But the law did not address how beneficiaries could sue for breaches to the trust prior to 1988 and dating back to 1959, when Hawaiʻi became a state.

The governor was tasked to come up with a plan to resolve prior breaches of trust, and a claims process was established in 1991. These breaches of trust included waiting list claims with other aspects, such as lost applications, as well as issues that were raised about fairness. The Native Hawaiian Claims Panel was created to address these claims.

However, the state eliminated the panel in 1999 before the work was completed. The Native Hawaiian Claims Panel had finished reviewing 53% of the claims, which included conducting hearings for many of them, but the state chose not to continue with the process.

The class action lawsuit, Kalima v. State of Hawaiʻi, was filed in 1999 because the state did not allow the claims panel to complete its work and settle the claims.

Who is Entiled to a Settlement Payment?

Plaintiffs are entitled to a settlement payment if they filed a valid breach of trust claim with the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Individual Claims Review Panel on or before Aug. 31, 1995. The breach of trust must have occurred between Aug. 21, 1959, and June 20, 1988. Individuals who opted out of the lawsuit, or have already settled their claim, are not included in this settlement.

If you are a settlement class member, no action is necessary at this time, but be sure your contact information is current.

Nearly 1,000 deceased class members are part of this lawsuit. Relatives of a deceased settlement class member will need to designate a person to represent the family and serve as point of contact. Any money paid to a deceased person will ultimately have to go through probate court to be distributed to the heirs.

A list of plaintiffs from Kalima, et al. v. State, et al., Civil No. 99-4771-12 LWC (First Cir. Haw.) and description of the settlement were published in the November 2022 issue of Ka Wai Ola without review by the Court, Special Master, or Class Counsel. The list was taken from 2016 court records and provided by DHHL. Updated, detailed, and accurate information concerning whether you are a class member and the terms of the settlement can be found at www.kalima-lawsuit.com or by contacting the Claims Administrator appointed by the Court at: 1-808-650-5551 or 1-833-639-1308 (Toll-Free); e-mail at info@Kalima-Lawsuit.com; U.S. mail at Kalima Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 135035, Honolulu, Hawai‘i  96801. Please contact the Claims Administrator with any questions. Neither OHA nor DHHL can advise concerning possible claims. 

Need More Information?

For detailed information about the case, to provide or update your contact information, or to exclude yourself from the settlement visit: www.kalima-lawsuit.com/ or call 808-650-5551 or 833-639-1308

Or attend a monthly virtual talk story session with Kalima case lawyers Carl Varady and Thomas Grande on the first Tuesday of each month (5:00 p.m.) via Zoom. The talk story sessions will continue through April 2023. The next session is December 6.

The Zoom link is: hawaiianhomesteads-org.zoom.us/j/83566826336

Or call the following number and enter the Zoom meeting ID when prompted if you prefer to participate by phone:

  • Phone: +1 669 444 9171
  • Meeting ID: 835 6682 6336