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Court upholds Kauaula Valley quiet title verdict

The Maui News

A state appeals court has affirmed a 2nd Circuit Court jury’s verdict recognizing members of a Native Hawaiian family as owners of a kuleana parcel in Kauaula Valley in Lahaina.

In a 51-page opinion published April 6, the Intermediate Court of Appeals rejected Makila Land Co.’s allegations of procedural errors during the trial and a legal error before the trial in its lawsuit against Ke’eaumoku Kapu and his family.

“The decision comes after a nearly 20-year-long struggle,” attorney Lance Collins, representing the Kapu family, said in a news release.

In 2002, Makila Land Co. — which is managed by West Maui Land Co. — sought quiet title to the parcel in an action filed in 2nd Circuit Court. The court initially granted summary judgment on the company’s claim, which Kapu appealed. In 2007. The Intermediate Court of Appeals reversed the decision and sent the case back for trial.

In June 2017, after a weeklong trial involving Hawaiian language experts and the family genealogy, the jury decided in favor of the Kapu family’s claim and against Makila Land.

Judge Peter Cahill presided over the trial.

Makila Land and the Kapu family have two other cases involving neighboring kuleana parcels in the valley that are pending before the state Supreme Court.

Collins and attorney Bianca Isaki represent the Kapu family in one case and attorney Daniel Gluck represents the family in another case.

Makila Land did not respond to requests for response to the court decision.

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