Hawaiian Home Lands Case Status

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By Thomas Grande, guest author

The Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations (SCHHA) welcomes guest author Thomas Grande who will provide an update regarding Kalima v. State of Hawaiʻi – a case filed in 1999 after the State of Hawaiʻi suspended the Hawaiian Claims Office. The case been returned to circuit court to compute damages and decide other individual issues.

Background

Between 1991 and 1995, approximately 2,700 Native Hawaiian beneficiaries filed claims against the State of Hawai’i for breaches of trust that occurred between Aug. 21, 1959, and June 30, 1988. Most of the claims were for delays in awarding homesteads, i.e., “Waiting List claims.”

After two trials, two appeals and five class certifications, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court ruled against the State of Hawaiʻi.

What Did the Supreme Court Decide?

In its opinion, the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court made three primary rulings:

  1. It confirmed that the State of Hawaiʻi breached its trust obligations in failing to award homesteads to beneficiaries.
  2. It approved a class-wide formula for computing damages based on the type of homestead applied for, the date of application and the length of the delay.
  3. It approved resolution of the Waiting List claims by a Special Master, who will also establish a process to resolve other claims.

The court also noted that, “It is clear to us that the State, by mismanaging the Trust, failing to keep adequate records, and continuing to litigate this case for decades, is responsible for creating a situation in which it will be difficult to accurately assess damages.”

Who are the Claimants?

Native Hawaiians who filed claims with the Hawaiian Claims Office (HCO) between 1991 and 1995 are participants in the case. These küpuna filed homestead applications before 1988. No one else may join or assert a claim in the case.

What Happens Next for Claimants?

Class Counsel will represent all of the Waiting List claimants before the Special Master. Claimants do not need to take any action now to assert their claim. Claimants will be contacted if more information is needed. However, claimants should make sure they have a will or trust to appoint someone to handle their case should they pass away.

Claimants who have moved recently should visit kalima-lawsuit.com to update their address online or call 1-888-901-4564.

Because of the State’s inability to produce a computer record of critical information, class counsel must review and summarize data from individual HCO claim files and DHHL application files for presentation to the Special Master. There are approximately 6,700 files to review in total.

What About Claimants Who Have Passed Away?

Tragically, over 400 of our claimants have passed away. Close relatives of a deceased claimant, or representatives of a deceased claimant’s estate should visit kalima-lawsuit.com and complete the online form or call 1-888-901-4564.

For more information go to www.kalima-lawsuit.com or call 1-888-901-4564


Thomas Grande and Carl Varady are Class Counsel in the Kalima lawsuit case.