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Ask Roger Your Own Question
Roger, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 31687
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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When I was evicted the representatives of the landlord stole

Customer Question

When I was evicted the representatives of the landlord stole some valuable property, both owned by me (clothing exempt) and some in my possession as you already know. This happened post petition: but before discharge. I need case or statute (FL) authority that this is not an asset of my Trustee. Also, my LL Was MARUWA USA but although they were a corporation there was no "Inc." in any of the documents. Can I pierce the corp veil on this alone & does the Civil Theft allow me to do so as it is clearly ultra vires?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  Roger replied 4 years ago.

Kirk Adams : Hi - thanks for looking me up again.
Customer : You're very good
Kirk Adams : Piercing the corporate veil is very difficult to do, and the fact that there was no "Inc." probably isn't enough to do that.
Customer : well their filing in my bankruptsy also did not include INC but gave the names of two people who apparently have nothing to do with the Corp...but the theft of my possessions (a felony by definition + I am over 65 and was at the time)
Customer : isn't the criminal conduct of their agent enough?
Kirk Adams : The person would not be protected by the company for committing a crime - - the individual would be responsible for that.
Kirk Adams : Under the civil theft statute, the employer/corporation could be responsible IF you can prove that it knew or authorized the actions of the employees.
Customer : yes but he was only able to do it by virtue of the corporation evicting me and he came to carry out the eviction
Kirk Adams : Yes, i understand that, BUT....
Kirk Adams : the employer probably didn't tell the employee to steal your things.
Customer : he was not an employee...
Kirk Adams : It's just like an employee receiving a speeding ticket in the company vehicle.
Kirk Adams : If the person wasn't an employee, then the company would have no liability.
Customer : they are the land lord. they allowed him to act on their behalf...using the judgment they obtained
Customer : he was there in an official capacity
Kirk Adams : Ok.
Customer : the order evicting me was in their name not his\
Customer : why do they not bear the risk?
Kirk Adams : If he was hired by the company, then he's likely an independent contractor, and the company would have no liability for his actions.
Kirk Adams : Instead, this person would be responsible and if he works for a company/has a company, that would be the potentially liable party.
Customer : no...he was not hired...I do not know the relationship but he always acted as if he were the landlord and even testified at the eviction hearing
Customer : he was not the manager either
Customer : he appeared in all respects to be the landlord doing business as a d/b/a
Kirk Adams : Ok. I understand now - - sorry for any confusion.
Kirk Adams : In that case, if he was an AGENT of the company, the company likely has no liability for his actions.
Kirk Adams : This would be so if he were independent and not an employee.
Kirk Adams : In that case, your issue would be with him - - not the company.
Kirk Adams : As for the bankruptcy issue, any collection/recovery that was not authorized by the bankruptcy court under an order lifting the automatic stay would be in violation of the stay.
Customer : Kirk, I may have taken you out of your 'comfort zone'...a corporation has to act through an individual and that individual is therefore the agent of the corporation (as only the corporation was suthorized to carry out the eviction) ie what he does, it does, by placing him in a position to do it. It is not the employee caught speeding; however if he hits someone in the corporations car they cannot avoid liability by saying he was not authorized to have an accident. I need a case of when the corporate veil was pierced in FL. I know the price is small but help me out here and I won't forget it. (I know...lawyers make the worst 'clients'...believe me I DO know) lol D.
Kirk Adams : Hi - I'm not out of my comfort zone YET :)
Kirk Adams : I understand what you're saying, but your example mixes civil and criminal laws. The employer would be civilly liable for the acts of its employee, BUT an employer is not liable for criminal acts of an employee.
Kirk Adams : So, if the employee is speeding, that's on the employee.
Kirk Adams : But, if an employee causes a wreck, then that's on the employer.
Kirk Adams : However, if this person that acted on behalf of the company WAS NOT an EMPLOYEE of the company, then the company would not be civilly liable for this person's actions.
Kirk Adams : Instead, the person or the person's business would be liable.
Kirk Adams : Bear with me and I'll see if I can find a case for you.
Kirk Adams : One other thought before the case law........In order for there to be liability on the company, the person must be acting within scope of his/her employment. That's why an independent contractor can't impose liability onto the employer.
Kirk Adams : Here's a case or two for you: DANIA JAI-ALAI PALACE, INC., CARROUSEL CONCESSIONS, INC., and SATURDAY CORPORATION v. GLADYS SYKES, 450 So.2d 1114: The corporate veil will not be penetrated either at law or in equity unless it is shown that the corporation was organized or employed to mislead creditors or to work a fraud upon them. Every corporation is organized as a business organization to create a legal entity that can do business in its own right and on its own credit as distinguished from the credit and assets of its individual stockholders. The mere fact that one or two individuals own and control the stock structure of a corporation does not lead inevitably to the conclusion that the corporate entity is a fraud or that it is necessarily the alter ego of its stockholders to the extent that the debts of the corporation should be imposed upon them personally. If this were the rule, it would completely destroy the corporate entity as a method of doing business and it would ignore the historical justification for the corporate enterprise system.
Kirk Adams : Courts are reluctant to pierce the corporate veil and will do so only in a court of competent jurisdiction, after notice to and full opportunity to be heard by all parties, and upon showing of cause which necessitates the corporate entity being disregarded in order to prevent some injustice.
Kirk Adams : ANTONIO BELTRAN, M.D. and ANTONIO BELTRAN, M.D., P.A., Appellants, v. VINCENT P. MIRAGLIA, M.D., P.A., Appellee.No. 4D11-4738 COURT OF APPEAL OF FLORIDA, FOURTH DISTRICT 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 5725; 38 Fla. L. Weekly D 808: A general principle of corporate law is that a corporation is a separate legal entity, distinct from the individual persons comprising them, and, absent some basis to pierce the corporate veil, there is no basis for imposing liability for corporate debts and obligations upon the individuals. Three factors must be proven to "pierce the corporate veil" and hold an individual shareholder liable for the debts of the corporation: (1) the shareholder dominated and controlled the corporation to such an extent that the corporation's independent existence, was in fact non-existent and the shareholders were in fact alter egos of the corporation; (2) the corporate form must have been used fraudulently or for an improper purpose; and (3) the fraudulent or improper use of the corporate form caused injury to the claimant.