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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ran into some trouble when purchasing land for his US$100-million family sanctuary.
Much of the land purchased by Zuckerberg is owned by Kama’aina families, who have rights to the land. This unexpected turn of events has backed Zuckerberg into a corner, so much so that he’s now trying to force the sale of the land rights, as first mentioned in a Hawaiian publication.
Using what’s known as the “quiet title and partition“, which challenges the individual’s claim to the land, Zuckerberg aims to put the land up for public auction.
Donald Eby, a real-estate attorney who isn’t involved in the case, explained how this puts individuals in a bad situation.
“The person being sued is ultimately on the defensive. Their ownership is being challenged, and because of that their ownership is put at risk,” the attorney was quoted as saying.
Using the “quiet title and partition” law, many Hawaiian natives have been forced from their land. “Partition by sale, in particular, is highly problematic for the Native Hawaiian community because it severs a family’s connection to ancestral land,” said a Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law primer.
Mark Zuckerberg is in heated battle to prove ownership of land belonging to Hawaiian natives
Through many of Zuckerberg’s companies such as Pilaa International LLC, High Flyer LLC and Northshore Kalo LLC, eight quiet title lawsuits have been filed in a state Circuit Court on Kauai. Some of the lawsuits filed were against living and dead people who have either inherited the land or owned an interest in kuleana lands, where ownership is sometimes largely undocumented.
Just to clarify the complexity of the case, one of the defendant’s names is Oma. She’s a Hawaiian woman who many believe was the first owner of a parcel of land within Zuckerberg’s property. She also happens to not have a surname due to an old Hawaiian tradition — this makes proving her claim to the land that much harder.
As for the defendants who have long passed away, Zuckerberg’s legal team would need to trace ownership through genealogical records before he could bid on their section of the land. He’s also required to show that his team made a valid effort in tracking down and identifying any living relative of the deceased. On top of doing so, Zuckerberg would also be required to notify the descendant of his intent to purchase the land and offer them the opportunity to participate in the legal proceedings.
Despite the massive costs it would take to track down the lineage of ownership, it is believed that Zuckerberg will offer those descendants a fair price for their land.