United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHIN-TEN HSU, et al., as Executors of the will of Yueh-Lan Wang, Plaintiffs,
NEW MIGHTY U.S. TRUST, et al., Defendants.
E. BOASBERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
February 2, 2018, this Court issued a Memorandum Opinion
addressing whether Plaintiffs' case should be dismissed
under the doctrine of forum non conveniens. Finding
that Taiwan was an adequate alternative forum and that
private and public factors counseled in favor of proceeding
in that country, the Court concluded that dismissal was
warranted. At that time, however, it did not grant
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss. The Court instead retained
jurisdiction in order to offer Plaintiffs the opportunity to
propose particular conditions for dismissal. They have now
done so and Defendants have responded, opposing certain
proposals and accepting others as appropriate terms. The
Court, after considering the positions of both sides, will
dismiss the case pursuant to the conditions set out below.
the doctrine of forum non conveniens, a district
court considers “the convenience to the parties and the
practical difficulties that can attend the adjudication of a
dispute in a certain locality.” MBI Grp., Inc. v.
Credit Foncier du Cameroun, 558 F.Supp.2d 21, 26-27
(D.D.C. 2008) (quoting Sinochem Int'l Co. Ltd. v.
Malaysia Int'l Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422, 429
(2007)). If the court determines that (1) an adequate
alternative forum exists and (2) public and/or private
factors favor dismissal, it has the discretion to dismiss the
case. In doing so, the court may also impose conditions upon
its dismissal. See El-Fadl v. Cent. Bank of Jordan,
75 F.3d 668, 677 (D.C. Cir. 1996), abrogated on other
grounds by Samantar v. Yousuf, 560 U.S. 305 (2010)
(stating that “the district court may dismiss for
forum non conveniens . . . conditioned on the
defendants' submitting to jurisdiction in Jordan and on
the Jordanian courts' acceptance of the case”). The
latitude in determining such conditions has not been
explicitly addressed by this Circuit, but such terms are
generally regarded as part and parcel of the district
court's broad discretion under FNC. See MBI
Grp., 558 F.Supp.2d at 31-32 (noting that “[t]he
D.C. Circuit has expressly authorized” conditional
dismissals under FNC) (citing El-Fadl, 75 F.3d at
679); Blanco v. Banco Indus. de Venezuela, S.A., 997
F.2d 974, 984 (2d Cir. 1993) (“[F]orum non
conveniens dismissals are often appropriately
conditioned to protect the party opposing dismissal.”);
In re Banco Santander Sec.-Optimal Litig., 732
F.Supp.2d 1305, 1330 (S.D. Fla. 2010), aff'd sub nom.
Inversiones Mar Octava Limitada v. Banco Santander S.A.,
439 Fed.Appx. 840 (11th Cir. 2011) (district court may impose
“conditions designed to prevent prejudice to the
plaintiff if the suit is reinstated in the foreign
prior Opinion, the Court addressed Defendants' Motion to
Dismiss under FNC. The full facts of this case are set out in
the earlier Opinions, see Yueh-Lan Wang ex rel. Wong v.
New Mighty U.S. Tr. (Wang I), 841 F.Supp.2d 198 (D.D.C.
2012), rev'd sub nom. Wang by & through Wong v.
New Mighty U.S. Tr., 843 F.3d 487 (D.C. Cir. 2016);
Yueh-Lan Wang by & through Winston Wen-Young Wong v.
New Mighty U.S. Tr. (Wang II), 322 F.R.D. 11 (D.D.C.
2017); Chin-Ten Hsu v. New Mighty U.S. Tr., 2018 WL
834230 (D.D.C. Feb. 12, 2018), and the Court will not repeat
them in any depth here. Briefly, however, this case is at
bottom a dispute between the putative heirs of the deceased
Taiwanese magnate Y.C. Wang. See Hsu, 2018 WL
834230, at *1-2. Defendants, a D.C.-based trust and its
affiliates, hold a portion of Y.C.'s assets. Id.
Plaintiffs, the executors of the will of Y.C.'s wife
Yueh-Lan Wang, asserted that these funds were improperly
disbursed and resulted in a “shorting” of
Yueh-Lan's marital share of the estate. Id. at
*2. Contending that resolving this contest involved complex
questions of Taiwanese family and marital law - particularly
in light of the multiple women claiming to be Y.C.'s
wives - Defendants moved to have the case dismissed in favor
of litigation in Taiwan. Id. at *3. Plaintiffs
opposed dismissal under FNC, contending that Taiwan was not
an adequate alternative forum and that the public and private
interests favored retaining the suit here.
careful analysis, the Court determined that dismissal was the
appropriate outcome. As the Court concluded, Taiwan was an
available and adequate alternative forum, the private factors
tipped slightly in favor of dismissal, and the public factors
“tip[ped] sharply in favor” of such an outcome.
Id. at *12. In particular, the Court found that
there were few local but “strong Taiwanese”
interests at stake, and that resolving the case would
“require this Court to gain a significant level of
expertise regarding foreign family and inheritance law, and
to resolve a number of questions of first impression arising
under Taiwanese law.” Id. at *12-13. In light
of such concerns, the Court exercised its broad discretion
under FNC and determined that dismissal was the most
practical and convenient course. Id. at *14.
not, however, actually dismiss the case at that time.
Instead, the Court determined that, in addition to
conditioning “[its] dismissal upon Defendants'
continued submission to Taiwan's jurisdiction and waiver
of their statute-of-limitations defenses, ” it would
“provide [Plaintiffs] with the opportunity to request
additional conditions” that would address their
“remaining concerns regarding their ability to re-file
in Taiwan.” Id. The Executors took the Court
up on that offer and, in late February, filed a Memorandum
proposing nine conditions for dismissal. See ECF
53-1 (Pl. Proposed Conditions). Defendants responded,
accepting certain of Plaintiffs' proposals but rejecting
and modifying others. See ECF 54 (Def. Resp.). The
Executors in turn replied with a somewhat edited version of
their original terms. See ECF 55 (Pl. Reply); ECF
55-1 (Pl. Revised Proposed Order). The Court must now
determine which, if any, of these proposed conditions it will
apply to its Order of dismissal.
Consent to Jurisdiction
first condition at issue is the specific Taiwanese court in
which Defendants will submit to service of process and
personal jurisdiction, should this case be re-filed overseas.
In its prior Opinion, the Court held that “Taiwan is an
available and adequate forum for this suit.”
Hsu, 2018 WL 834230, at *8. That determination
rested in part upon Defendants' representation that,
should Plaintiffs choose to re-file in that country, they
would submit to service of process and personal jurisdiction
before a Taiwanese court. Id. at *5-6. Now, although
acquiescing to that condition generally, Defendants ask the
Court to limit such consent to service of process and
jurisdiction solely before a court in Taipei,
Taiwan. Plaintiffs respond that such geographic specificity
is unwarranted and unnecessary.
condition, the Court agrees with the Executors. Although
Defendants note that the waivers they submitted refer
specifically to Taipei, see ECF Nos. 47-9 (Decl. of
Susan Wang), 47-10 (Decl. of William Wong), 47-11 (Decl. of
Donald Kozusko), their filings during litigation were not so
limited. Rather, Defendants repeatedly discussed their
“concession to service and jurisdiction in Taiwan,
” ECF No. 47-1 (Motion to Dismiss) at 25, their
“declarations agreeing to submit to the jurisdiction of
an appropriate court in Taiwan, ” and their position
that “Taiwan courts will enforce” such
agreements. See ECF No. 50 (Def. Reply) at 14-15.
This Court similarly referred to Taiwan, rather than Taipei,
when assessing the impact of Defendants' waivers on the
availability of Taiwanese courts. See Wang II, 322
F.R.D. at 25 (finding that Defendants “effectively
concede that they are not amenable to process in Taiwan, but
agree in affidavits to submit themselves to its
jurisdiction” and that “on [the] Taiwanese
personal-jurisdiction issue, such a confession is sufficient
to overcome any problems”); Hsu, 2018 WL
834230, at *9 (Defendants “have now consented to . . .
foreign jurisdiction” in Taiwan). In light of
Defendants' representations throughout this case and the
conclusions of the prior Opinions, the Court is satisfied
that the equitable outcome is to condition dismissal upon
Defendants' consent to service of process and personal
jurisdiction in Taiwan generally, rather than Taipei
Court also notes that Defendants are unable to provide any
legal precedent for conditioning dismissal upon consent to
jurisdiction in a foreign city rather than in a nation.
Cf. MBI Grp., 558 F.Supp.2d at 31-32 (conditioning
dismissal upon defendants' submitting to jurisdiction in
Cameroon); El-Fadl, 75 F.3d at 679 (conditioning
dismissal on defendants' submitting to jurisdiction in
Jordan). They have, moreover, offered no evidence that Taipei
is the only proper venue for Plaintiffs' claims in Taiwan
nor given any other rationale for their desire to restrict
jurisdiction to a given city. Indeed, such geographic
specificity is not required when determining whether a
foreign system is available and adequate under FNC; the
doctrine instead allows courts to avoid making
in-depth inquiries into foreign law. See Hsu, 2018
WL 834230, at *12 (public-interest factors include “the
avoidance of unnecessary problems . . . in the application of
foreign law”); In re Air Crash Off Long Island,
N.Y., on July 17, 1996, 65 F.Supp.2d 207, 215 (S.D.N.Y.
1999) (noting that “inquiry into foreign jurisdictional
law . . . [is] easily obviated by use of the typical
conditional dismissal device”). The Court therefore
declines to delve into the minutiae of Taiwanese venue
provisions or potential distinctions among its various
courts. It instead will condition its dismissal upon
Defendants' consent to service of process and personal
jurisdiction in Taiwan writ large.
Waiver of Defenses
second condition proposed by Plaintiffs addresses
Defendants' waiver of statute-of-limitations and other
similar defenses. The Executors request that the Court
condition its dismissal upon Defendants' waiving
“any defenses based on limitations, statute of
limitations, statutes of repose and/or laches.” Rev.
Proposed Order at 1. They propose that this waiver be applied
to “any of the claims asserted in the Second Amended
Complaint or any additional claims that Plaintiffs assert
against Defendants in the Taiwan Action that arise out of the
conduct, transactions or occurrences set out - or attempted
to be set out - in the Second Amended Complaint as that
clause within Rule 15(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure” has been interpreted by U.S. courts.
Id. Although Defendants accept the types of defenses
listed in this condition - i.e., those based on
limitations, repose, and/or laches - ...