Home Lands lawsuit toBy Harold Morse
be filed today, could total
A class-action lawsuit was expected to be filed in Circuit Court today on behalf of more than 2,700 native Hawaiians who have filed claims with the state for breaches of the Hawaiian Home Lands trust.
Attorneys Thomas R. Grande and Carl M. Varady, who said they are filing the suit, think it could bring total awards of up to $100 million.
According to Grande, the state set up a process in 1991 that would allow individuals who allege breaches of trust to file administrative claims.
A panel was set up to determine whether they were due compensation and to make recommendations to the Legislature, according to Grande. But the Legislature did not act in cases of claimants who made it through the administrative process, he said.
"Those claimants numbered about 400, and they were recommended to be awarded about $16 million," the attorney said.
The rest either did not make it through the administrative process or their claims were dismissed, Grande said.
"The state has taken the position that none of these individuals have a right to sue for breaches of trust," he said. The suit asks the court to declare these people do have a right to sue, Grande said.
Including the $16 million recommended earlier for claimants who made it through the administrative process, Grande said the estimated value of all the claims could amount to $30 million, or possibly much more.
"We think that could be over $100 million, depending on the legal rulings that are adopted by the court," he said.