Wang v. New Mighty U.S. Trust,, No. 12-7038 (D.C. Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
In 1935, Yueh-Lan married Y.C., who founded the Formosa Plastics Group in 1954. In 2008, Forbes magazine ranked Y.C. as the 178th wealthiest person in the world. Y.C. remained married to Yueh-Lan, but had children with other women. Yueh-Lan helped to rear at least one of those children, Winston. In 2005, allegedly to reduce Yueh-Lan’s share of the marital estate, Y.C. made transfers, including to the New Mighty U.S. Trust. Y.C. died in 2008. In 2010, Winston—a citizen of Taiwan, allegedly acting as Yueh-Lan’s attorney-in-fact—sued New Mighty, its trustee, and one of New Mighty’s beneficiaries. Ruling on a motion to dismiss, the district court concluded that a traditional trust is an artificial entity that “assumes the citizenship of all of its ‘members’ for purposes of diversity jurisdiction” under 28 U.S.C. 1332(a). Reasoning that New Mighty’s “members” included its beneficiaries, the court instructed the defendants to produce a list of all beneficiaries and their citizenship. The list included entities that were citizens of the British Virgin Islands, so that complete diversity did not exist. After the notice of appeal was filed, Yueh-Lan died. Winston and her Taiwanese executors moved to substitute the executors as Yueh-Lan’s personal representative. The D.C. Circuit reversed the dismissal and granted the motion to substitute, citing the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision, Americold Realty Trust, stating that a “traditional trust” carries the citizenship of its trustees.