Wednesday, November 04, 2009


State will be liable for monetary damages after Hawaiian Homelands trial

by Larry Geller

HHL1 (Click for larger)

Carl Varady (center, right) answers press questions (center left is Tom Grande)

(see previous article for judge’s ruling)

The Hawaiian Homelands Trust is an obligation that Hawaii assumed as a condition of statehood. This trial covered a limited time period of 1959 (statehood) to 1988 and asked for compensation for losses resulting in delays in awarding homesteads.

The attorneys represented 2,700 beneficiaries, many of whom were young applicants but are now senior citizens. Over the 30 or more years since they may have applied for a homestead or for agricultural or pastoral land, some have passed away.

Members of the plaintiff class originally filed claims 1991 with an administrative panel charged with compensating them for their losses, but when that went nowhere and the state shut down the panel, the lawsuit was filed. It made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the state argued that claims could not be brought against it.

The Supreme Court ruled that indeed claims could be brought, and sent it back down to the Circuit Court for trial. Judge Eden Elizabeth Hifo ruled yesterday that the state was liable for breaches of trust in failing to award homesteads promptly.

This means that there will be another trial to determine how compensation will be paid and whether some kind of blanket settlement or individual settlements must be made. Evidence presented at this trial showed that many awards were of substandard or unusable land, which would be the subject of yet another trial.

Here are some audio clips – snipped out of context but short and informative.

Attorney Tom Grande

Attorney Tom Grande explains ruling

Or click here to listen


Attorney Carl Varady

Attorney Carl Varady on the meaning to beneficiaries of yesterday's ruling

Or click here to listen


Tom Grande

Tom Grande explains a bit of the history in this short clip

Or click here to listen

What happens next? Will the state appeal? (When does the state not appeal!?!) How will individual damage claims be determined? How many more years will the Hawaiian people have to endure a seemingly endless waiting list for the homesteads that the state is keeping in trust for them?

Stay tuned.


As a citizen of this state, I ask that the State not appeal the decision, but do the honorable action and comply.

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