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Kalima case lawyers calculate damages for Native Hawaiians in $328M settlement with the state

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

Damages are being calculated for more than 2,700 Native Hawaiians in the Kalima case — a class-action lawsuit filed by Native Hawaiians waiting for homestead land. Now, lawyers for the claimants are working to ensure the $328 million settlement approved by the state gets to those who deserve it.

Honolulu attorney Tom Grande, co-counsel for the plaintiffs in the Kalima case, is in the process of compiling all the data he’s accumulated over the last 23 years to calculate his clients’ claims.

“Mainly their application and award dates or the start and ending dates of their damages,” says Grande. “That’s been a very arduous task, there’s been lots of records that are missing. But we hope to have that process completed by the end of September.”

Class members will then receive notices on their application date, award date, and the amount of their damages. All of this culminates in a final approval hearing set for April 2023.

But for 1,100 class members who have died since the lawsuit was filed in 1999, Carl Varady, co-counsel in the Kalima case, says it’s a matter of tracking down their relatives.

“And that’s gonna take quite some time to identify their heirs and make sure their heirs are aware that they are class members in this lawsuit and validate the potential claim,” says Varady.

To be a class member, individuals must have applied for Hawaiian Homes by June 30, 1988, and applied to the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust Individual Claims Review Panel between 1991 and 1995.

This can be all too confusing. So the Sovereign Council for Hawaiian Homestead Associations, or SCHHA, is hosting a series of statewide pop-up events as well as a monthly Zoom call for Kalima case claimants and family members.

SCHHA Chairwoman Robin Danner says meetings will happen on the first Tuesday of every month through April 2023. People can connect directly and talk story with Kalima case lawyers, including Grande.

“More than anything, we want to make sure that the money that’s been awarded gets into the pockets of the people who have suffered the most,” says Grande.

If you believe you may have a claim and you’re not certain, visit www.Kalima-Lawsuit.com or call toll-free 1-833-639-1308.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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