History Of The Case

Governor's Task Force

In 1988, Governor John Waihee adopted task force recommendations to resolve breach of trust claims by Native Hawaiians against the State of Hawai‘i in the administration of the Hawaiian Homelands program.  This process resulted in the establishment of a Hawaiian Claims Office Individual Claims Panel (“Panel”) in 1991 pursuant to the requirements of Hawaii Revised Statues Chapter 674.  See a copy of HRS Chapter 674 on the Important Documents page.

Under Chapter 674, Native Hawaiians who alleged a breach of trust in the management and disposition of trust resources between 1959 and 1988 were entitled to pursue their claims for breach of trust administratively and judicially.  Because the Panel did not complete its work by 1999, the Legislature extended its existence for one year.  However, that bill was vetoed by the governor.

The termination of the Panel operations left the beneficiaries in a classic “Catch-22.”  In order to file a claim in Circuit Court, the claimants had to reject Legislative action taken on their claims.  However, the Legislature had taken action on only one of the 4,000 plus claims filed by the 2,721 claimants.

Lawsuit Filed in 1999

A lawsuit brought by beneficiaries of the Hawaiian Home Lands trust was filed in Circuit Court on December 29, 1999.  Under Chapter 674, the lawsuit could only be filed on behalf of beneficiaries who filed claims with the Panel by August 31, 1995.  The case was titled Kalima v. State of Hawai‘i.  In June 2000, Judge Victoria Marks certified Count I of the Complaint as a class action and ruled in Plaintiffs’ favor that they had a right to sue for breaches of trust in circuit court.  See Judge Marks' Order on the Important Documents page. The State filed their notice of appeal on December 20, 2001.


Hawai‘i Supreme Court Ruling

On June 30, 2006, six years after Judge Marks certified Count I of the Complaint, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruled that claimants have the right to sue for monetary damages in Circuit Court for breaches of trust that occurred between 1959 and 1998.  See Hawaii Supreme Court Ruling on the Important Documents page.

Subclass Certification

After the Supreme Court ruling in 2006, the Plaintiffs amended their complaint to pursue the claims on a subclass wide basis.  See Second Amended Complaint on Important Documents page.

Plaintiffs then moved to certify five subclasses to make the case more manageable. Judge Marks certified five subclasses: Waiting List, Ultra Vires, Uninhabitable Awards, Lost Application, and Successor Rights.  Subclass 1, Waiting List, is by far the largest of the subclasses, including almost all of the class members.  See Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification on Liability for Subclass 1 Through 4 and 6 Filed March 20, 2007 on the Important Documents page.


The trial for the liability portion of Subclass 1, Waiting List, started on August 4, 2009.  The trial ended on September 11, 2009.  Approximately three weeks later, on November 3, 2009, Judge Eden Hifo rendered her written decision and ruled that the State of Hawaii breached its trust obligations and was liable for the delays in receiving homesteads by the beneficiaries.  See Decision Regarding Liability and Legal Causation Following Trial on the Important Documents page.

Judge Hifo retired at the end of 2009 and the Honorable Judge Virginia Crandall has been assigned to the case.  


The damages portion of the case will go to trial on September 30 and October 1, 2013.

For more information, see the Frequently Asked Questions page.

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