Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Reconsidering Property Lawsuit vs Hawaiians

Posted January 28, 2017

"To find a better path forward, we are dropping", the lawsuits, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, wrote in an op-ed published Friday by a local Hawaiian newspaper.

Kuleana lands are especially important, law professor Kapua Sproat explained to the Guardian, because native Hawaiians view land as an "ancestor" or family member, rather than as a possession.

After the Honolulu Star-Advertiser first reported on the lawsuits, Zuckerberg took to his own Facebook page to defend himself, calling the media coverage "misleading".

"To find a better path forward, we are dropping our quiet title actions and will work together with the community on a new approach", he continued. In seeking those rights, he began what's called a "quiet title" process, which allows for ownership of land to be decided by a judge. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has built a six-foot wall around his 700-acre estate on the island. Enacted way back in 1850, the act entitled the successor of the original owners of specific tracts of land to retain their ownership even if they do not possess specific land deeds or other legal documents.

Now the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he is "reconsidering" a set of lawsuits now that the the move has attracted widespread publicity. The quiet title system is used to establish ownership of land where inheritance has occurred over generations and lacks formal documentation, and to force sale.

The quiet title process is a sensitive one for Hawaiians, as historic land ownership is often undocumented and local families could be at risk of being displaced by wealthy outsiders.

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"Here we have the world's sixth richest individual, with a team of the world's best lawyers, suing you, then asking you to make a deal".

Zuckerberg said he was "reconsidering" the lawsuits earlier this week after receiving heated criticism from Kauai residents and local government officials.

"I'm focused on building our community at Facebook and working on the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative", he said on Tuesday.

"For most of these folks, they will now receive money for something they never even knew they had".

The move to get the land through a unique Hawaii law angered locals and prompted a state lawmaker to propose a bill that would force Zuckerberg into mediation before buying real estate on Kauai. "We will continue to speak with community leaders that represent different groups, including native Hawaiians and environmentalists, to find the best path", he wrote in the open letter.