A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has punted on the question of whether DW Aina Lea Development, LLC, should be able to bring a lawsuit against the state of Hawaii six years after the Land Use Commission voted to revert land it owns on the Big Island back to the Agricultural land use district. DW Aina Lea claims that the decision cost it millions of dollars, even though the reversion was later overturned by the Hawaii Supreme Court.
DW Aina Lea says the appropriate statute of limitations is six years, while the state argues it should be no more than two. In February, attorneys for the state and the company argued their respective positions before the appellate judges in a hearing held at the Richardson Law School.
On March 7, the appellate court notified the parties that it is asking the Hawaii Supreme Court to decide what the applicable statute of limitations in this case should be given that state statutes are open to different interpretations. In legal parlance, the order from the 9th Circuit certifies the question to the state Supreme Court.
The dispute was the subject of an article in the March 2019 edition of Environment Hawaii: “Developer’s Delay in Suing State Is Subject of Appeals Court Hearing.”