Comment on Today’s Hawaii Supreme Court Decision

Date: May 16, 2017

News Release--Small business applauds outcome of case on the valuation of property

Contact: Luke Wake, NFIB Senior Staff Attorney, [email protected]
or Karen Harned, Executive Director, NFIB Small Business Legal Center, [email protected]

HONOLULU, Hawaii, May 16, 2017—The NFIB Small Business Legal Center, speaking on behalf of Hawaii’s small-business community, commended today’s decision by the Hawaii Supreme Court in the County of Kauai v. Hanalei River Holdings, Ltd., concerning just compensation owed for an eminent domain condemnation.

“The Supreme Court’s decision is a very consequential victory for private property rights in Hawaii,” said attorney Karen Harned, executive director of the Small Business Legal Center at the National Federation of Independent Business. “We’re delighted it sought to align itself with other states in this area of eminent domain law that puts the landowner ahead of the government’s expedient interests.”

A recurring issue in eminent domain law, noted Harned, is the question as to when a landowner should be compensated for the devaluation of an adjoining or nearby property that suffers a depreciation in value as a result of a government or public utility taking of another parcel.

“Because it is common for small-business owners to use separate properties as part of an integrated commercial operation, NFIB argued, in a joint amicus brief with Owners Counsel of America, that full and fair compensation for a taking of one parcel must necessarily cover resulting depreciation in the other parcel. Accordingly, the Legal Center urged the Hawaii Supreme Court to take this case because the lower court of appeal had pronounced an unfounded rule that properties must physically touch in order to claim devaluation. As argued in our brief, this rule is inconsistent with the rule employed in the vast majority of state courts—all of which recognize that compensation may be owed for devaluation in another property, regardless of whether they are physically adjoining parcels.”

NFIB filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief on behalf of the defendant last July. NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center has stepped up its fight against eminent domain abuse in the wake of the Kelo v. New London case in 2005 when the U.S. Supreme Court gave a green light to the seizing of property for economic development projects benefiting private developers. The Center has made it a priority to fight for just compensation for small-business owners who have had their property taken for public projects.

With 325,000 dues-paying members nationwide, including nearly 1,000 in Hawaii, NFIB is the largest and leading small-business association in the nation.


The NFIB Small Business Legal Center is a 501(c)(3) organization created to protect the rights of America’s small business owners by providing advisory material on legal issues and by ensuring that the voice of small business is heard in the nation’s courts. The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small-business association, with offices in Washington, D.C. and all 50 state capitals. For more than 70 years, the National Federation of Independent Business has been the Voice of Small Business, taking the message from Main Street to the halls of Congress and all 50 state legislatures. NFIB annually surveys its members on state and federal issues vital to their survival as America’s economic engine and biggest creator of jobs. NFIB’s educational mission is to remind policymakers that small businesses are not smaller versions of bigger businesses; they have very different challenges and priorities.

National Federation of Independent Business/Hawaii
841 Bishop St., Suite 2100
Honolulu, HI 96813
Phone: 808-447-1840
Fax: 808-523-3712

Related Content: News | State | Hawaii | Property Rights | Supreme Court

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