Friday, January 15, 1999

Reduction of
Campbell Estate
trustees opposed

By Rick Daysog


An heiress to the Campbell Estate fortune is opposing plans to reduce the number of trustees who oversee the $2 billion family trust.

In court papers filed yesterday, Abigail Kawananakoa asked Probate Judge Kevin Chang to dismiss a Dec. 31 petition for instructions on whether to eliminate one of the four trustee positions at the Estate of James Campbell.

Kawananakoa and Fred Trotter, a fellow Campbell descendant and former estate trustee, are in favor of retaining the current four-trustee system.

Both have backed the controversial nomination of state Supreme Court Associate Justice Robert Klein to the powerful $800,000-a-year post. The position has been vacant since Dec. 31 with the retirement of Paul Cassiday.

Carroll Taylor, Kawananakoa's attorney, acknowledged that Campbell family members have been split on whether to continue with the current system or revert to a three-trustee management system. Prior to 1971, the estate was managed by three trustees.

But Taylor said that two of the current trustees have lobbied family members to eliminate the fourth trustee position. He said it was improper of the trustees to file the petition for instructions given the disagreement between family members.

The trustees have said they are neutral on the issue. A hearing is scheduled for March 12.

Founded in 1900, the Campbell Estate is a for-profit trust established to benefit the heirs of Scottish seaman James Campbell. It is Hawaii's eighth-largest private landowner, with 70,800 acres here.

The current trustees are former Castle & Cooke executive Tom Leppert, former University of Hawaii business professor David Heenan, and former estate chief executive Clint Churchill. Under Campbell's will, the estate would terminate in the year 2007 but the trust is looking at ways to create a successor organization.

Trotter has argued that a fourth trustee with a legal background like Klein's is necessary as the trust moves toward its termination.

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