Nelson v. Hawaiian Homes Comm'nAnnotate this Case
In dispute in this case was whether Plaintiffs were entitled to attorneys' fees and costs in litigating the underlying case. In the underlying case, Plaintiffs sued the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) and the State, arguing that the State violated its constitutional duty to sufficiently fund DHHS in order to rehabilitate native Hawaiian beneficiaries and that the DHHL breached its obligations to the beneficiaries of trust lands for several reasons. The first issue in the instant case was the extent to which Plaintiffs "prevailed" in the underlying case. The Supreme Court denied Plaintiffs' request for attorneys' fees and costs, holding (1) Plaintiffs prevailed on appeal; (2) Plaintiffs arguably established an entitlement to attorneys' fees under the private attorney general doctrine; but (3) Plaintiffs' request for appellate attorneys' fees was barred by the State's sovereign immunity.