KILAUEA, KAUAI -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent $100 million on 700 acres of beachfront land on Kauai’s North Shore to create a secluded sanctuary for his family.
Now, says CBS Honolulu affiliate KGMB-TV, he’s trying to ensure that privacy by suing families who might stake some claim to that land.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that Zuckerberg is filing lawsuits against a few hundred people – many living and some dead -- who inherited or once owned “kuleana lands,” which are lands passed down to the heirs of the first landowner without a will or a deed.
“Close to a dozen small parcels within Zuckerberg’s Kauai estate are owned by kamaaina families who have rights to traverse the billionaire’s otherwise private domain,” the newspaper says.
The suits are aimed “at forcing these families to sell their land at a public court auction to the highest bidder,” the Star-Advertiser explains.
Under the Kuleana Act of 1850, those lands are also passed down to people who now only own fractions of an interest in the property. But in many cases, there’s no documentation.
Keoni Shultz, a partner at Cades Schutte, which represents Zuckerberg companies, released a statement saying, “It is common in Hawaii to have small parcels of land within the boundaries of a larger tract, and for the title to these smaller parcels to have become broken or clouded over time. In some cases, co-owners may not even be aware of their interests. Quiet title actions are the standard and prescribed process to identify all potential co-owners, determine ownership, and ensure that, if there are other co-owners, each receives appropriate value for their ownership share.”
A contested case could potentially cost land owners more than $200,000, though Shultz says Zuckerberg has no intention of contesting any co-owner who can prove his or her interest in any of the land parcels.