NOT FOR PUBLICATION IN WEST'S HAWAII REPORTS OR THE PACIFIC REPORTER
APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SECOND CIRCUIT (CIVIL NO. 02-1-0071(3))
Chief Judge Kevin H.S. Yuen (Law Office of Kevin H.S. Yuen) for Defendants-Appellants.
Tom C. Leuteneker (Carlsmith Ball LLP) for Plaintiff-Appellee.
Nakamura, C.J., Foley and Reifurth, JJ.
In this quiet-title action, Defendants-Appellants Harvey Ah Sam; Patrick Ah Sam; Frederick K. Bailey, Jr.; Kenneth D.Kahoohanohano; Richert M. Kamaiopili; Susan K. Koehler; Maebelle M. Librando; Iraday U. Bailey; Patrick E.K. Bailey; Peter L. Bailey; Robert Allen Bell; Patrick K.T. Chu; Rochelle J. Gardanier; Charles Kauluwehi Maxwell, Sr.; Judity L. Nagamine; Jacqueline Kuahine Amina Rapoza; Janice L. Revells; Clovis Gyetvai; Elizabeth Keala Han; Glenn F. Kahoohanohano; Helene R. Saronitman; Hannah E.H. Souza; Lillie Lani Bailey Mundon; Charles E. St. Germain; and Wayne Chun (collectively, "Defendants") appeal from the Final Judgment and Decree, filed February 16, 2010, in the Circuit Court of the Second Circuit ("Circuit Court") . We affirm.
On August 20, 1852, an individual named Kaluau was granted three separate parcels of real estate in Waikapu, Maui, by virtue of Land Commission Award 8672 ("LCA 8672"): (1) a parcel of taro and open dry land, 1.55 acres, in Kuaiwa ("'Apana 1"); (2) a parcel of taro land, 0.25 acres, in Kuaiwa; and (3) an irrigated field, 0.06 acres, in Haliipalala ("'Apana 3") . On February 7, 2002, original Plaintiff-Appellee Wailuku Agribusiness Co., Inc. ("Wailuku") filed a complaint in Circuit Court seeking to quiet title to 'Apana 1 and 'Apana 3.
Wailuku moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it held paper title or, in the alternative, that it had acquired title through adverse possession. Concerning paper title, Wailuku argued that Kaluau died intestate, survived by his father, Kalapuna, and his mother, Kekiu,  and that in 1855, Kalapuna conveyed 'Apana 1 by deed ("1855 Deed") to John Richardson ("Richardson"), through whom Wailuku claimed paper title. Defendants opposed summary judgment and argued that, among other things, the 1855 Deed failed to specify what property was being conveyed. The Circuit Court ultimately granted summary judgment to Wailuku as to both 'Apana 1 and 'Apana 3, holding that it had acquired title by adverse possession, and without specifying whether or how it was ruling on the claim of paper title.
This court affirmed in Wailuku Agribusiness Co. v. Ah Sam, 112 Hawai'i 241, 145 P.3d 784 (App. 2006). The Hawai'i Supreme Court granted certiorari, affirming as to 'Apana 3 in Wailuku Agribusiness Co. v. Ah Sam, 114 Hawai'i 24, 155 P.3d 1125 (2007) ("Wailuku I"). However, the supreme court held that the Circuit Court erred in granting summary judgment as to 'Apana 1 because "viewed in a light most favorable to Petitioners, there are genuine issues of material fact as to whether a cotenancy exists among Petitioners and Wailuku and, if a cotenancy does exist, whether Wailuku acted in good faith towards its cotenants." 114 Hawai'i at 27, 155 P.3d at 1128. The supreme court stated that a tenant in common claiming adverse possession must prove that it acted in good faith towards other cotenants during the statutory period and that this usually requires the tenant to notify the cotenants that it is claiming adversely. Id. at 34, 155 P.3d at 1135. Given that the Defendants were claiming through Kekiu and the lack of evidence that Kekiu conveyed during her life, the Court recognized the possibility that a cotenancy existed between Wailuku, or its predecessors, and Kekiu's heirs. Id. at 35, 155 P.3d at 1136.
Upon remand, the record shows that Wailuku sold 'Apana 1 to Makani Olu Partners, LLC ("Makani") and nonparty Makena Real Estate Corporation ("Makena"), and Makani was substituted for Wailuku as Plaintiff-Appellee.
At the bench trial, Defendants stipulated that Makani and its predecessors had openly, notoriously, continuously, and exclusively possessed 'Apana 1 for the requisite statutory period; consequently, Defendants focused their defense on the issues of cotenancy and good faith addressed in Wailuku I. The Circuit Court found, among other things, that the parties' English translations of the 1855 Deed, written in Hawaiian, indicated that the deed purported to convey only one piece of land and that it was unclear that that piece was 'Apana 1. The Circuit Court concluded that Defendants and Makani and its predecessors were not cotenants and that, based on Defendants' pre-Wailuku I position, they were estopped to assert a contrary position. Thus, the Circuit Court declared that Makani and Makena "are the sole owners by adverse possession of Land Commission Award 8672, apana 1 in fee simple absolute, free and clear of all claims, liens, clouds or encumbrances, except for encumbrances of record."
II. Points of Error
On appeal, Defendants argue that the Circuit Court erred in (1) finding that the evidence failed to establish a complete chain of title to Makani, (2) concluding that Defendants and Makani were not cotenants of 'Apana 1, (3) concluding that Makani and its predecessors had no reason to suspect the existence of a cotenancy or to serve notice of a hostile claim because no cotenancy existed, (4) concluding that Defendants had made judicial admissions that Makani and ...