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OHA, state and others tentatively agree to settlement of ceded lands lawsuit


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POSTED: Wednesday, May 06, 2009

As lawmakers passed a proposal that would require legislative approval for the sale of ceded lands — those once held by the Hawaiian monarchy — officials announced an agreement in a 15-year-old lawsuit that had sought to settle the issue.

In a joint statement, the board of trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, all of private plaintiffs but one and the state said the settlement agreement was contingent upon Senate Bill 1677 being signed into law by Gov. Linda Lingle.

Lingle said yesterday she had not studied the bill in detail but she expects to once it reaches hr desk.

If signed into law, OHA said in a news release, the trustees and all private plaintiffs except University of Hawaii Professor Jonathan Osorio will dismiss all their claims without prejudice, meaning they still could file similar claims in the future if they feel the terms of the settlement are not being met.

The lawsuit, filed in 1994, sought to stop the transfer of 1.2 million acres of ceded lands to developers for affordable-housing projects, and the Hawaii Supreme Court sided with OHA, blocking the sale. On March 31 the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned that ruling and sent it back to the Hawaii court, but attorneys said they hoped to work out a settlement.