LIHUE — A Fifth Circuit judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed earlier this year against Carlos Andrade, a retired history professor who recently bought four kuleana land parcels on Mark Zuckerberg’s property for just over $2 million.
The lawsuit was based on claims made by two of Andrade’s distant cousins, who, until a week ago, owned partial shares in the property. The civil claim alleged that Andrade violated court procedure by colluding with a Zuckerberg-controlled company during years-long “quiet title” court proceedings which resulted in an auction that left Andrade the sole owner of the land.
During a brief hearing, Fifth Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano dismissed the lawsuit, finding that the issues it raised were “basically a duplication” of a dispute currently being argued in the quiet title case.
Valenciano had deferred his ruling on whether to allow the suit to progress, electing to wait until the sale of the land was finalized at a confirmation hearing which took place in another courtroom last week.
“The dynamics could change,” Valenciano said during a hearing last month.
Ten days ago, Andrade only owned three of the four kuleana, but when the bidding reopened at last Tuesday’s confirmation hearing, he outbid the very relatives who had purchased the fourth parcel at a public auction in March and sued him the following day.
The ruling was a partial vindication for Andrade, who has repeatedly denied the allegations brought by his relatives in both lawsuits, and, after two and a half years of litigation, has finally consolidated ownership over all four kuleana that were once the shared property of hundreds of members of his extended family.
In an interview after the hearing on Thursday, Andrade’s attorney Harvey Cohen said he and his client have maintained all along that the claims made by this lawsuit were substantively the same and were pleased to find that Valenciano saw the case the same way.
“They were trying to get a second bite at the apple, or a second apple altogether,” Cohen said, describing the efforts of attorneys representing Andrade’s relatives — Shannon Buckner, who grew up on Kauai and Wayne Rapozo, a London-based attorney, both of whom used to own a fraction of a percent interest in the land.
Rapozo, who has financed and coordinated much of the family’s opposition to the land partition process, said via text message Thursday that he and other “Rapozo family holdouts are clearly disappointed with the dismissal” and are considering filing an appeal.
“We have not been afforded an opportunity to conduct discovery and find the truth,” Rapozo said, in reference to his claim that Zuckerberg paid for Andrade’s legal expenses and somehow funneled him the money he bought the land with. “We simply do not believe a retired college professor can afford all of this on his own and it should frighten Hawaii if this sets a precedent.”
Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.