Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Trusts & Estates
He Depu v. Yahoo! Inc.
Plaintiffs, Chinese citizens who were imprisoned for expressing dissent on the internet, filed suit alleging that, as part of an earlier settlement, Yahoo established a charitable trust to provide humanitarian and legal assistance to imprisoned Chinese dissidents and that defendants improperly depleted the trust's funds, terminating it altogether.The DC Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of the complaint, holding that plaintiffs plausibly alleged that Yahoo established a charitable trust and that plaintiffs' "special interest" in the trust was sufficient to give them standing to enforce it. In this case, the Settlement Agreement created a charitable trust. Furthermore, plaintiffs' allegations satisfied the two prongs of the Hooker special interest standing test, because plaintiffs challenged an extraordinary measure threatening the existence of the trust, raising an issue that could only be tried once, and they plausibly satisfied the requirement that they belong to a class of potential beneficiaries that was sharply defined and limited in number. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "He Depu v. Yahoo! Inc." on Justia Law
Shi v. New Mighty U.S. Trust
In 2010, the widow of a Taiwanese plastics magnate and billionaire filed suit against the trusts created before her husband's death, alleging that the transfer of a large portion of her husband's assets to the trusts unlawfully denied her the full marital estate to which she was entitled. The district court ultimately granted, subject to conditions, the trusts' motion to dismiss the complaint on forum non conveniens grounds.The DC Circuit reversed and remanded, holding that the district court failed to give appropriate weight to the widow's legitimate choice of forum and erred in concluding that the private interest factors weighed slightly in favor of dismissal and in overemphasizing the public interest factors in deciding to dismiss this case on forum non conveniens grounds. In this case, the trusts failed to meet its heavy burden of showing that suit in the United States was so inconvenient as to be harassing, vexing, or oppressive. The court held that, the district court's errors, considered together, constituted a clear abuse of discretion. View "Shi v. New Mighty U.S. Trust" on Justia Law
Wang v. New Mighty U.S. Trust,
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. View "Wang v. New Mighty U.S. Trust," on Justia Law
Cobell, et al. v. Salazar, et al.
This was an appeal from the approval of a class action settlement agreement related to the Secretary of the Interior's breach of duty to account for funds held in trust for individual Native Americans. The court concluded that the record failed to confirm either the existence of a purported intra-class conflict or a violation of due process. Rather, the record confirmed that the two plaintiff classes possess the necessary commonality and adequate representation to warrant certification, and that the district court, therefore, did not abuse its discretion in certifying the two plaintiff classes in the settlement or in approving the terms of the settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate pursuant to Rule 23(e). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment approving the class settlement agreement. View "Cobell, et al. v. Salazar, et al." on Justia Law
Estate Of Mark Parsons, et al. v. Palestinian Authority, et al.
While providing security for a U.S. State Department convoy in the Gaza Strip, Mark Parsons was killed by a roadside bomb. Parsons's estate and his family sued the Palestinian Authority under the Antiterrorism Act of 1991, 18 U.S.C. 2333, alleging that the Authority had provided material support for and conspired with the terrorist or terrorists who detonated the bomb. The court held that, although it agreed with the district court that the family's conspiracy claim theories were too speculative to survive summary judgment, the court believed a reasonable juror could conclude that Authority employees provided material support to the bomber. Accordingly, the court affirmed with respect to the conspiracy claim but reversed as to material support.