HILO — Less than a week after Hawaii County evicted Abel Simeone Lui and a group living on county-owned property at Kawa Bay, the state Intermediate Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied Lui’s appeal of a June 2011 eviction order granted by the 3rd Circuit Court.
“Upon careful review of the record and the briefs submitted by the parties and having given due consideration to the arguments advanced and the issues raised by the parties, as well as the relevant statutory and case law, we conclude Lui’s appeal is without merit,” the three-judge panel said in its order.
“There are no genuine issues as to any material fact, and the county was entitled to judgment as a matter of law,” the order said.
Lui, contacted Tuesday afternoon, said he hadn’t had a chance to read the ruling, but he planned to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“I will appeal whatever the decision was,” Lui said. “Right now, I just have to see what they did.”
Lui, claiming Native Hawaiian stewardship rights, had been living on the land for about 20 years before his eviction Thursday.
He claims his great-great-grandfather, Timoteo Keawe, received the land in a royal grant and that under kingdom law, it could be leased but never sold. But the state Supreme Court in 2007, in an 83-page opinion, ruled the Apikis — another Native Hawaiian family that traces its roots six generations to a Kawa Bay fishing village — and other families had no ownership interest in the land.
The ICA noted that Hawaii County had purchased the property from a landowner who had purchased it from a seller who had already successfully quieted the title through the court in 1988 and won an eviction order of its own in 2001.
Hawaii County began purchasing the two parcels in 2008. Worth about $6 million, the 784 acres fronting one of the best surf spots in the county, and containing dozens of burials and archaeological sites, was purchased with a combination of federal funds and money from the open space land fund from county property taxes.