Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has launched a raft of lawsuits that could see the US billionaire secure full ownership of his island hideaway from local Hawaiian families who retain rights over the land dating back generations. 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. As the Honolulu Star Advertiser explains, the Kuleana Act of 1850 granted land ownership rights to native Hawaiians-rights that can descend to subsequent generations without the formal transfer of deeds or titles.
The Zuckerberg-controlled companies Pilaa International LLC, Northshore Kalo LLC, and High Flyer LLC on December 30 filed eight so-called "quiet title" lawsuits aimed at forcing the targeted individuals to sell their land at a public court auction to the highest bidder.
The issue revolves around the 700 acres of land that the 32-year-old billionaire bought on the northern shores of Kauai, Hawaii for $100 million in 2014.
This is not the first time the chief executive of Facebook has had to face off with residents surrounding his Hawaii estate.
"A few years ago, Priscilla and I visited Kauai and fell in love with the community and the cloudy green mountains". It has been nearly three years so one can imagine the frustration Facebook CEO is feeling when he finds out he still does not have exclusive rights to this 700-acre secluded island.
However, according to Zuckerberg's post on Facebook, Thursday, he negotiated the land purchases through their majority owners, but some of these lands might have fractional owners who may not be aware they were entitled to anything. But for that, he has called upon a Hawaii's "quiet title" law which allows for the rightful ownership of land to be decided in front of the court rather than just plain tradition. Defendants in the lawsuits will have three weeks after being served with a copy of the legal complaint within which to respond.
This doesn't mean that Mark won't be paying those who have right to the property. He said he filed the suits in order to identify all the family members who may be able to lay claim to the small pieces of land inside the huge plot he purchased. The paper said sources involved with Kauai land dealings expect Zuckerberg to pay a fair amount or even an especially generous sum to any and all land owners in proceeding auctions.
Now the social media multibillionaire is suing hundreds of locals in the area who still have legal ownership claims to parts of his estate through their ancestors.
It is common for people to own small parcels of land within a larger property, Zuckerberg's attorney, Keoni Shultz of the Cades Schutte law firm, said in a statement to CNBC.
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