Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust?
The Hawaiian Home Lands Trust was established by Congress in 1921 to rehabilitate Native Hawaiians by awarding them homesteads.  The State of Hawai‘i assumed the trust obligation when it became a state in August 1959.

What is the Native Hawaiian Claims Panel?
In 1991, the State of Hawai‘i waived its sovereign immunity and granted Home Lands Trust beneficiaries the right to sue for past breaches of trust between 1959 and 1988.  HRS Chapter 674 established a Native Hawaiian Claims Panel to consider the claims and recommend resolution of the claims to the Hawai‘i State Legislature.  2,700 beneficiaries filed over 4,000 claims with the Claims Panel between 1991 and 1995.

What is this lawsuit all about?
Kalima v. State of Hawai‘i was filed in 1999 when the State eliminated the Claims Panel that reviewed breaches of trust by the State of Hawai‘i between 1959 and 1988.  Judge Victoria Marks ruled that the 2,700 claimants had the right to sue the State because the Claims Panel did not complete it’s work.

In 2006, the Hawai‘i Supreme Court affirmed Judge Marks’s ruling that the claimants had the right to sue the State in circuit court.

What happened at the trial that was just held?
In 2009, a six-week trial was held before Judge Eden Hifo on behalf of those claimants who alleged that the State breached its trust obligations by failing to award them homesteads in a timely manner.

Judge Hifo ruled that the State of Hawai‘i beached its trust obligation and was liable for the delays in receiving homesteads by the beneficiaries.

What does it mean that the State was held liable?
Liability means that the state is responsible for any damages suffered by the claimants.  

What will happen next with the lawsuit?
            The damages portion of the case will go to trial on September 30 and October 1, 2013.

Are all Native Hawaiians part of the lawsuit?
Only beneficiaries who filed a claim with the Claims Panel between 1991 and 1995 are part of this lawsuit.

If I am not a member of this lawsuit, can I join?
No, if you are not already a part of the class, you cannot join the lawsuit.  The class is limited to individuals who filed claims with the Hawai‘i Home Lands Trust Individual Claims Review Panel.  

I filed a claim with the Claims Panel – what do I need to do now?
If you filed a claim with the Claims Panel and did not previously opt out of the lawsuit, you do not have to do anything at this point.  Class counsel is representing your interests.

When will the case be completed?
Once we get a ruling on whether we can proceed as a damages class, we will have a better idea of when the case will be over.  However, we hope that damages will be decided as soon as possible, but it will probably not be sooner than the end of 2010.  After a final decision, if the State appeals, the final ruling may take several more years.

How does Judge Hifo’s retirement affect our case?
It does not affect her November 2009 finding that the State is liable for breaches of contract.  We do not have to re-try the case.  The case will continue to move forward, but with Judge Virginia Crandall.

I’m elderly and I don’t know if I will live to see the end of this lawsuit.  If I die, will I lose my claim?
You should designate a successor  in your will.  If you have further questions, please seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in wills and trusts.  

I have copies of documents from the Claims Panel.  What do I do with my file?
Please keep your file; do not send it to us.  We will let you know when and if we need to review it.

Can you send me a copy of documents filed in court? Court transcripts?
We have provided certain documents for your information and files on this website.  If there are any other documents you would like for your files that are not on this website, you can request a copy of the documents from Circuit Court.  All documents filed in court are public and available for copying.

I’ve moved and/or changed my phone number.  How do I give you my contact information? 
Please call us at 1-800-322-2850  and leave your name, current mailing address, and phone number.   You can also go to the Contact Us page on this website and submit your new address on the form.

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