Can I sue the owner of a local oil company in small claims court if the company is a corporation?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I sue the owner of a local oil company in small claims court if the company is a corporation?

I was ripped off by a local oil company. After getting taken I checked them out on-line and have found hundreds of people that say they were ripped off by them. It seems the owner hides behind the “corp” status. Both I and the company are in MA. The company is listed as a corporation.

Asked on November 13, 2010 under General Practice, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may call it "hiding" behind the corporation status, but the very purpose of a corporation is to shield owners from personal liabiltiy for corporate acts. So in more than 99% of cases, you cannot sue the owner of a corporation personally for the acts of his or her corporation. The exceptions are:

1) The owner personally did something wrong--e.g. if the owner personally stole your money, for example, or did acts that constitute fraud--you may be able to sue him for his personal actions, and not as an owner of a corporation.

2) In a VERY few cases, it is possible to "pierce the corporate veil" IF you can show that the corporation was essentially pretextual--it wasn't really a functioning company; for example, its moeny and the owners was comingled--and it's clear that the owner was, as you put it, simply trying to hide behind an assumed corporatate status and deliberately using it as a tool to commit fraud or other crimes. However, be warned--it is rare that the corporate veil is successfully pierced.

If  you want to explore these options, you will almost certainly need to consult with and retain an attorney to help you--these are not easy actions to bring.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption