A woman who maintains that she’s the first Asian person of her gender to fly a single-engine plane around the world and was wrongfully denied a promised award by a man who later died in a plane crash can proceed with her legal case against his estate, a Los Angeles judge has ruled.

Zheng (Julie) Wang sued Wei Chen in March 2018, alleging he reneged on a 2014 promise of a six-figure award to the initial Chinese female to accomplish the task.

Chen was a passenger on a small plane headed to Memphis when it crashed in a northwest Atlanta park, killing him and everyone else on board on Dec. 20, 2018. A well-known Memphis businessman, he founded Sunshine Enterprises, which focuses on the wholesale distribution of Chinese construction and industrial equipment, in 1998. He also had a home in Rowland Heights.

On Aug. 20, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin granted Wang’s motion to substitute Chen’s wife, Zhaohui Xu, as the defendant in the lawsuit. Xu is the executor of Chen’s estate, which was opened in Memphis.

Wang is seeking triple and punitive damages, including the $163,000 prize money, on allegations of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and breach of contract. The promoter that helped prepare her financially for the flight, China General Aviation LLC, also is named as a plaintiff.

Chen had a net worth of more than $30 million, according to the plaintiff’s court papers.

According to Wang’s complaint, Chen announced in September 2014 at the International Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association in Beijing that he was willing to pay the prize — which amounts to a million Chinese yuan — to the “first Chinese woman to complete an around-the-world flight.”

Wang, then 43, embarked on her flight from Addison Airport near Dallas on Aug. 17, 2016, and successfully returned from the global trip at the same airport on Sept. 19, 2016, according to her lawsuit.

Wang says she became not only the first Asian woman to accomplish such a task, but also the first person of Chinese descent to do so by herself and the eighth woman of any ethnicity to fly around the world solo.

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