Princess Kawananakoa's attorneys denounce foundation's board

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jul. 12, 2018 at 10:40 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 13, 2018 at 8:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Attorneys for Abigail Kawananakoa took aim at several prominent Native Hawaiian leaders in court proceedings Thursday, calling them "arch enemies" of the 92-year-old Hawaiian royalty descendant.

During a hearing in probate court, Michael Lilly, who's representing Kawananakoa, said he opposed several Hawaiian leaders in the legal proceeding to determine who runs Kawananakoa's $200 million trust. Michael Rudy, an attorney for Kawananakoa's wife Veronica Worth, echoed those statements.

Among those they opposed include former Bishop Estate Trustee Oswald Stender, Hawaiian Studies professor Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, and Hawaiian social services executive Jan Dill.

All three are board members of the Abigail Kawananakoa Foundation, which is supposed to get more than half of the Campbell Estate heiress' assets after she dies. The foundation uses it funds to benefit Native Hawaiian causes.

"These three people are an anathema to her. They have publicly denounced her and this is more humiliation, your honor," Rudy said.

"She is absolutely livid at what's happened to this foundation. ... It really just forces Miss Kawananakoa's hand. This is a charity and I don't represent her but I understand her anger and what do think your honor she's going to do?" Rudy said.

"You can guess judge, you're a fairly educated man, what's going to happen to this trust?" Rudy said.

Stender said he's known Kawananakoa for over 50 years and he's always considered her a good friend.

"I was kind of surprised that she said that, if she did, if she did," Stender said.

Kawananakoa and Worth were not in court Thursday.

Kawananakoa has been fighting to regain control of her trust. She was removed as its trustee last July and replaced by her former attorney, James Wright, after she suffered an attack similar to a stroke.

A court-appointed medical expert said Kawananakoa doesn't have the capacity to manage her own financial affairs, but her attorneys contest that and are seeking to remove Wright.

Probate Judge Mark Browning didn't rule on whether the foundation's board members have standing. He also put off a hearing on who will run Kawananakoa's trust until September.

Lilly said he opposes further delays.

"She's 92 years old and (every) delay is very dangerous to Miss Kawananakoa. We perceive it as an attempt to outlive her," Lilly said.

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