Back in 2014, Mark Zuckerberg paid close to $100 million for 700 acres of beachfront property on the island of Kauai.
Now the Facebook billionaire is suing a few hundred Hawaiians who still have legal ownership claims to parts of his vacation estate through their ancestors, as was first reported by the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
Three holding companies controlled by Zuckerberg filed 8 lawsuits in local court on December 30 against families that collectively inherited 14 parcels of land through the Kuleana Act, a Hawaiian law established in 1850 that gave natives the right to own the land they lived on for the first time.
The 14 parcels total just 8.04 of the 700 acres Zuckerberg owns, but the law currently gives any direct family member of a parcel’s original owner the right to enter his otherwise private compound. Only one of the parcels is currently being used by retired professor named Carlos Andrade, who has joined Zuckerberg as a co-plaintiff in the lawsuits.
The quiet title lawsuits that have been filed are designed to identify all property owners and give them the ability to sell their ownership stakes at auction, according to Keoni Shultz, a lawyer representing Zuckerberg. Because the ownership stakes are passed down and divided among family descendants by the state, many people don’t realise they have a claim until action is taken against them in court.
“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,” Shultz told Business Insider in a statement. “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.”
This isn’t the first time that Zuckerberg has taken steps to fortifying his Kauai property. Last year he angered neighbours by constructing a rock wall that blocked their views of the ocean.