Kalima, et al. v. State of Hawai‘i, et al.

Civil No. 99-4771-12

Welcome to the informational website for the  Kalima v. State of Hawai‘i class action lawsuit.  This website was created as a central site for the claimants and the public to get updates on the case, documents, and obtain information. We will update this website as the case progresses and we receive new information.  

This case was filed on behalf of the 2,700 people who filed claims with the Native Hawaiian Claims Panel ("Panel") between 1991 and 1995.  Only those people who filed claims with the Panel between 1991 and 1995 are a part of this lawsuit.  More information can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have a potential lawsuit involving other Native Hawaiian issues, 

please call the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation at (808) 521-2302.


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.

Toll-free number:  (888) 901-4564

For more information, please go to the Contact Us page and submit a request for more information.

Recent Announcements

  • Hawai`i Supreme Court Hears Argument on August 21, 2019
    On the 60th Anniversary of statehood, when Hawai`i accepted the solemn duty to act as trustee and fiduciary of the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust, the Hawai`i Supreme Court heard argument on the Beneficiaries and State's cross-appeals.

    In Kalima v. State (Kalima I), 111 Hawaiʻi 84, 137 P.3d 990 (2006), the Court had held that the Beneficiaries were permitted to file a complaint seeking individual damages under Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes Chapter 674.  After the Court affirmed the Beneficiaries' right to sue it sent the case back to the Circuit Court.  The Circuit Court first found the State liable for various breaches of the trust.  It later adopted a fair market value based damages model to calculate the damages to be awarded to each waiting list beneficiary.  Another trial was held to resolve methodological issues regarding the circuit court’s fair market value model.  In 2008, the circuit court entered a final judgment.

    On appeal, the State contends that the circuit court erred in (1) establishing an overbroad subclass list; (2) finding that the State breached its trust duties by not recovering lands that were “withdrawn from the Trust prior to Statehood[;]” (3) adopting a damages model that is not connected to the breaches of trust that were found by the circuit court; (4) adopting a damages model that fails to limit recovery to “actual damages” as required by statute; (5) applying the Oʻahu fair market rental value model for residential leases to the entire State; (6) incorrectly determining that subclass members had no duty to mitigate damages until 1995; (7) incorrectly providing for temporary suspension of damages when claimants “deferred” from participation in a homestead offering; and (8) shifting the burden of proof to the State on essential elements of Beneficiaries' case.

    On cross-appeal, the Home Lands Beneficiaries argued that the circuit court erred in (1) ruling that beneficiaries must prove out-of-pocket expenditures to recover individual damages; (2) ruling that a waiting list subclass member’s “deferred” status suspends their individual damages; (3) imposing a six-year delay before individual damages accrue; (4) not bringing damages to present value; and (5) adopting the “best fit” curve and reducing individual subclass damages.

    Carl Varady and Thomas Grande argued for the Beneficiaries. The Court was very well informed and the parties arguments and Court's questions lasted for 2 hours. The Court originally had scheduled the argument for only 30 minutes.

    You can click on the link to the argument to the Court here: https://www.courts.state.hi.us/oral-argument-before-the-hawaii-supreme-court-scap-18-0000068

    We are hopeful for a decision by the end of the year.  Please keep checking this site for updates.

    A photo of the hui and lawyers after argument is shown.

    Mahalo nui!

    Posted Aug 23, 2019, 9:29 PM by Vivien Akiyama
    Reply briefs were filed in the case on December 28, 2018.

    Read Plaintiffs’ Reply Brief by clicking here.

    Read Defendants’ Reply Brief by clicking here.

    Oral argument is set for Wednesday, August 21, 2018
    at the Hawai’i Supreme Court Courtroom, 417 South
    King Street, Honolulu 96813.
    Posted Jun 19, 2019, 6:03 PM by Vivien Akiyama
    The Hawai’i Supreme Court has scheduled
    oral argument in the appeal:

    Date:   Wednesday August 21, 2019

    Time:   8:45 a.m.

    Place:  Supreme Court Courtroom
                Ali’iolani Hale
                417 South King Street
                 Honolulu, Hawai'i


    Oral argument will be held at the Hawai‘i  Supreme Court located at 417 S King St, Honolulu, HI.  There is limited metered street parking on Richards St., S. King St., Mililani St., I`olani Palace, Punchbowl St. and a few metered stalls adjacent to the court.

    Public parking at a nominal rate ($1/hr) is available in the two State parking structures located at Halekawila and Punchbowl Streets and Pohukaina and South Streets.  There is also metered parking at the Municipal lot located at Beretania and South Streets.

    Parking also is available at commercial rates at the Restaurant Row parking lot on Pohukaina Street (but you may be able to get an hour of validation if you buy something at one of the shops there).

    The attached map found in the pdf file located below this announcement can be downloaded and printed for more detail regarding the location the court and for locations of the parking options noted above.

    The court opens at 8:30 a.m. and argument starts at 8:45 a.m.  Please be on time if you plan to attend.  Call 523-8447 if you have any questions. 

    Mahalo and Aloha Kākou.

    Posted Aug 19, 2019, 1:51 PM by Vivien Akiyama
    Answering briefs in the case were filed on October 4, 2018.
    Reply briefs are due on October 29, 2018.

    Read Plaintiffs' Answering Brief by clicking here.
    Read Defendants' Answering Brief by clicking here.
    Posted Oct 15, 2018, 4:55 PM by Vivien Akiyama
    Opening briefs in the case were filed on July 25, 2018. Answering briefs are due on October 4, 2018.

    Read Plaintiffs' Opening Brief by clicking here.
    Read Defendants' Opening Brief by clicking here.
    Posted Sep 9, 2018, 5:06 PM by Vivien Akiyama
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