$328 million settlement reached in 23-year Hawaiian Home Lands case
A $328 million settlement has been reached in a 23-year Hawaiian Home Lands case, Kalima et al. v. State of Hawai’i, et al.
Governor David Ige today announced the settlement of all class claims in the case. Under the settlement, which must be approved by the Hawaiʻi 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 $328 million payment will also cover claims administration costs and the cost to retain a court-appointed Special Master to oversee and account for the funds.
“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. I remain committed to developing and delivering homes for the Hawaiian Home Lands beneficiaries,” said Gov. David Y. Ige in a press release.
“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 Attorney General Holly T. Shikada said. “We may now put 23 years of litigation to rest and, if funds are appropriated, move forward with implementation of the settlement.”
The settlement is conditioned on the Legislature appropriating funds for the payment. If appropriated by the Legislature, the settlement funds will be paid into an account controlled by the Court and disbursed under the supervision of the court-appointed Special Master. The settlement must also receive preliminary and final approvals from the Circuit Court to ensure that the terms are fair to class members.
The 23-year Kalima lawsuit was filed in 1999 as a class action 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 August 21, 1959 and June 30, 1988. The case has undergone trials on liability and the measure of damages, and two separate appeals.
Recently, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court 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. In Kalima v. State, 148 Hawai‘i 129 (2020), the Court affirmed various orders entered by the Circuit Court. These included orders holding the State liable for breaches of trust and establishing a damages model used to calculate Waiting List Subclass members’ damages.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys have established an informational telephone hotline. Class members with questions regarding the details of the settlement should call 808-650-5551 and 1-833-639-1308 or email questions to [email protected] for more information.