Management Nominees v. Alderney Investments, No. 15-8011 (10th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
This case involved competing claims to the ownership of Alderney Investments, LLC by relatives of Rudolf Skowronska (Rudolf), a Polish national. The initial filing with the Wyoming Secretary of State identified two Panamanian corporations as Alderney’s only two members: Nominees Associated Inc. and Management Nominees Inc. (MNI). In the years that followed, the beneficial ownership of Alderney went through a series of transformations: Rudolf initially held beneficial ownership of Alderney through a series of intermediary entities, including MNI and Nominees Associated Inc., as well as UEB Services, LTD and Morgan & Morgan Corporation Services S.A. In August 1999, Rudolf, although not individually a member of Alderney, purported to transfer ownership of Alderney to his half-sister, Dagmara Skowronska. Alderney’s managers subsequently voted to give Dagmara “power of attorney” over Alderney’s affairs. The Appellee, MNI, was Belizean corporation also named Management Nominees Inc., which contended that in 2003, Dagmara transferred her interest in Alderney to Rico Sieber, her husband and MNI’s sole shareholder. The Appellants, Alderney and Edyta Skowronska, Rudolf’s wife, contend that Dagmara transferred 90% of her interest to Edyta and her two children after Rudolf’s disappearance in 2005. Further complicating matters, in 2012, Alderney’s members, Management Nominees Inc. and Nominees Associated Inc., transferred their membership interest in Alderney to MNI, making MNI the sole member of Alderney. The dispute over ownership of Alderney came to a head in 2013, when Edyta sought to dissolve Alderney. Edyta, on behalf of Alderney, filed articles of dissolution with the Wyoming Secretary of State. The Secretary issued a certificate of dissolution for Alderney in March 2013, and this lawsuit followed. This case raised a dispute regarding the citizenship Alderney and whether, in light of the Tenth Circuit's decision in "Siloam Springs Hotel, L.L.C. v. Century Surety Co.," (781 F.3d 1233 (2015)), the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the case. The Tenth Circuit concluded that Alderney was an unincorporated association for purposes of federal diversity jurisdiction, with its citizenship therefore determined by that of its members. Because Alderney’s members were foreign corporations, there was not complete diversity between Alderney and MNI. As a result, the district court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. The trial court's grant of summary judgment was vacated and the case remanded for dismissal.