LIHUE — A motion to intervene in a quiet title case involving kuleana land and limited liability company Northshore Kalo, a company owned or controlled by Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was heard in Fifth Circuit Court Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Wayne James Rapozo acquired parcels from Sharon Stapp, gaining 1/546 interest in the land and has been assigned all of the Stapps claims, according to court documents and asked the court to allow him to be named a defendant in the case based on his interest.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Kathleen Watanabe told the parties involved that the court would take the matter into consideration.
According to court documents, on June 16, 2017, Northshore Kalo re-positioned itself in this litigation by moving to withdraw as a plaintiff in the case and instead added as a defendant. The court granted the motion and entered an order about a month later.
The fact that a co-plaintiff somehow became a single plaintiff and a co-defendant with everyone else, Attorney David Minkin told the court, is one of the issues they’re going to try to find out in discovery if they’re allowed to intervene in this particular matter.
What’s significant to the court is that Carlos Andrade, who is listed as a plaintiff on the case, was represented by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation and because of that, none of the Rapozo descendants can be represented by the corporation.
“Which is one of the things that Native Hawaiian Legal Corp. is funded to do by the state Legislature. To protect kuleana lands throughout the state,” Minkin said.
Because of that conflict, Minkin said his client contacted every other lawyer he could, but no one else would take the case except his Oahu firm and Kauai Attorney Laurel Loo.
“By the end of the day, even though Carlos (Andrede) is still the plaintiff, any of the money that’s coming forward to buy out various defendants, comes from Northshore Kalo,” Minkin said.
By obtaining the Stapp’s deed, Minkin told the court that Rapozo has asserted and can assert his rights and should be allowed to intervene on the matter.
Prior to Rapozo obtaining the Stapp’s deed, there wasn’t any communication from the plaintiffs that a default had taken place. Because Rapozo is now the owner of the property, Watanabe asked Minkin if that means he is now responsible for issues, such as the default summary are now Rapozo’s responsibility.
They had no idea there was an entry of default taken, he said.
Now that they know there’s an entry of default, they’ll be filing a motion to set aside the entry of default because an answer has already been given, he said.
The default against Stapp was documented May 7 and the answer to the default was filed May 18.
On behalf of Andrede, Harvey Cohen argued that Rapozo purchased the land nearly 15 months after the initiation of the case, which puts him in an even more tenuous position than another defendant who asked to become involved with this case.
“This court denied that ruling. If anything Mr. Rapozo is further removed from the property, the case than (that defendant) was,” Cohen said.
Those defendants purchased the case 30 days or less after the case was initiated, not 15 months, he said. Because the court denied intervention in that case, he requested a similar denial in this case.
“As far as the mandatory inclusion of a pleading, Cohen said this is a mandatory requirement so the court can proceed and the failure to comply represents an independent basis for this court to deny Mr. Rapozo’s motion for intervention,” he said.
Cohen argued Rapozo knew about the initiation of this lawsuit long before he purchased the land, stating Rapozo had posted on social media his concerns for cultural and historic concerns.
Bethany Freudenthal, Courts, Crime and County reporter, 652-7891, email@example.com
This story has been changed to correct two things. It misstated Attorney Harvey Cohen represented Northshore Kalo. It also misstated Manuel Rapozo acquired the parcels.