News

Ige Announces $328M Settlement in Hawaiian Home Lands Case

April 26, 2022, 2:58 PM HST
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The state is looking to settle a 23-year-old Hawaiian Home Lands class action lawsuit.

Gov. David Ige

Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday, April 26, a $328 million settlement in the Kalima lawsuit against the state. According to a news release from the governor’s office, the class action lawsuit was filed in 1999 and the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled that individual beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust could bring an action to recover damages arising from breaches of trust occurring between Aug. 21, 1959, and June 30, 1988.

The case has undergone trials on liability and the measure of damages and two separate appeals.

“This necessary resolution fairly compensates the Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries and brings this litigation to a close, but it is not the end of the story,” said Ige in the news release. “I remain committed to developing and delivering homes for the Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries.”

Under the settlement, which must be approved by the state Legislature, the state will pay the plaintiff class $328 million in exchange for a full, global release of all claims, including damages, attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. The payment will also cover claims administration costs and the cost to retain a court-appointed Special Master to oversee and account for the funds.

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“After weeks of intensive negotiations with the assistance of the settlement judge, the Honorable Gary W.B. Chang, the parties have reached a fair and necessary resolution of this longstanding case – for both the members of the plaintiff class and the state as a whole.” said state Attorney General Holly T. Shikada in the news release. “We may now put 23 years of litigation to rest and, if funds are appropriated, move forward with implementation of the settlement.”

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The settlement is conditioned on the Legislature appropriating funds for the payment. It also must get Circuit Court approval to ensure the terms are fair to class members.

Recently, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court also decided an appeal and cross-appeal relating to the Waiting List Subclass, a group of claimants contending that breaches of trust by the state caused them unreasonable delay in receiving a homestead award, according to the news release. In those appeals, the high court affirmed various orders entered by the Circuit Court, including orders keeping the state liable for breaches of trust and establishing a damages model used to calculate Waiting List Subclass members’ damages.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys established a hotline for class members with questions about the settlement. The hotline can be reached at 808-650-5551 and 1-833-639-1308. Questions also can be emailed to [email protected].

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