KUNIA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Back in 2009, dozens paid up to $60,000 an acre to fulfill their dream of owning a farm in Kunia. But for many it's become a financial nightmare.
In a Circuit Court lawsuit filed on Tuesday, 26 farmers alleged that they paid for land that they don't even own.
"It really hurts, it's not just me it's my family as well as other farmers. They are suffering because of these promises were not delivered," said farmer Pepe Paguirigan.
Five years ago, Paguirigan paid a $240,000 down payment on a 12-acre parcel at the Kunia Loa Ridge Farmlands project.
He said the developer C&C Farmlands advertised the deal as fee simple sale. But according to the suit, they were actually selling long-term leases but weren't telling buyers.
"It's not fee simple, it's a 99-year lease that they can't get loans on and the developers took back some of the paper on some of them and now threaten to foreclose because they can't get loans on them," said attorney Michael Green, who filed the suit.
"Their lifesavings are involved in this dirt that has no infrastructure, no water and some of it is really rocky."
C&C's attorney denied the allegation, saying all of the contracts made it clear to the farmers that they were buying leasehold, not fee simple land.
Paguirigan says he's losing about $6,000 a month on the farm because developer isn't providing enough water.
"It really almost shattered my dreams of being a farmer," he said.
Since the lawsuit alleges unfair and deceptive practices, the farmers could collect treble damages if they win. That could add up to millions of dollars.