Facebook’s Zuckerberg Sues Hundreds Of Hawaiians For Land Rights To 700-Acre Paradise Getaway

Grumpy old men are not the only ones yelling at others to stay off their lawns, so is Mark Zuckerberg, the billionaire co-founder of Facebook. You see, when you're saddled with extreme wealth and fame, sometimes you just want to get away (hashtag-OnePercenterProbs). In Zuckerberg's case, he purchased a 700-acre property in Hawaii, but those dang neighbors own plots that are only accessible by stepping foot on his soil. What's a billionaire to do? Sue the neighbors to force them to sell their properties.

That is a bit of an oversimplification and it makes Zuckerberg sound super evil. Maybe that is the case in this instance and maybe it is not—feel free to add your two cents to our comments section, but first, let's look at some of the details.

Zuckerberg's 700-acre property lies on the island of Kauai. He purchased it two years ago, presumably to give himself a secluded to vacation.

Mark Zuckerberg
Image Source: Flickr (Brian Solis)

While Zuckerberg owns a huge chunk of property, there are close to a dozen parcels within his estate that are owned by kamaaina families who have rights to set foot on his domain. That is where a legal action called a "quiet title and partition" comes into play. What this does is force those properties owners to sell land that has been in their families for generations. It is not an uncommon practice in Hawaii, though it is sometimes frowned upon for obvious reasons.

"Partition by sale in particular is highly problematic for the Native Hawaiian community because it severs a family’s connection to ancestral land," the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law told Honolulu's Star Advertiser.

Zuckerberg is suing the property owners through several companies he owns. There are a few hundred people involved, many still living and some that are dead, who inherited or once owned interests in kuleana lands where ownership is often undocumented. Some of the property owners aren't even aware of their stake.

"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," said Koeni Shultz, a partner at the Honolulu law firm Cades Schutte representing Zuckerberg's companies.

It is a highly sensitive situation, not to mention complicated, though not everyone involved is against what Zuckerberg is doing. One of the suits was filed against about 300 people who are descendants of an immigrant Portuguese sugar cane plantation worker who purchased two acres of land in 1894. One of his great-grandchildren, Carlos Andrade, lived on the property until recently. He is a retired university professor and is helping Zuckerberg as a co-plaintiff to avoid having the land taken over by the county, which can happen if no one in the extended clan assumes responsibility for paying property taxes. In a letter sent to known relatives, Andrade argues that selling to Zuckerberg ensures "everyone gets their fair share."