Kohala Landowner VS State Case Dismissed

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South Kohala District from Māmalahoa Highway. Photo by Travisthurston – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Hawai‘i federal Judge Susan Oki Mollway dismissed a lawsuit yesterday, which was filed by a private Hawai‘i Island landowner against the state after the Land Use Commission reverted more than 1,000 acres of land in South Kohala from urban to agricultural use in 2011, according to Attorney General Doug Chin.

Earlier this year, Plaintiff DW Aina Lea Development LLC sued the state, claiming that the decision by the LUC was a constitutional taking of DW’s property without compensation.

The state argued that DW was not damaged and that the lawsuit was brought too late after applicable statutes of limitation had passed.


Judge Mollway agreed with the state that DW’s lawsuit was time-barred.

“The attorneys in my office take very seriously all claims against the state and will fight to not pay anything to claimants who are not entitled to payment or who fail to follow the rules,” said Attorney General Chin. “This owner came to court too late and will leave with nothing.”

The LUC had taken action in 2011 to revert the South Kohala land because a requirement to build affordable housing there remained unfulfilled more than 20 years after the original reclassification. The Hawai‘i Supreme Court later reversed the commission’s decision based on money various developers spent on preliminary work.


The same land is the subject of another lawsuit brought by a prior landowner and developer, Bridge Aina Lea LLC, that is claiming up to $40 million in damages based on the same action by the LUC. Bridge Aina Lea LLC filed its lawsuit against the state in 2011. The trial for this other case is scheduled for March of 2018.

A copy of yesterday’s order can be downloaded here.

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