The plaintiff, a corporation seeking to recover outstanding debts incurred by TCI Trans Commodities A.G. (TCI Switzerland), a bankrupt Swiss entity, sued Trans Commodities, Inc. (TCINY), a New York corporation, to collect the debt. The plaintiff alleged that TCINY and TCI Switzerland were so intertwined or interrelated as to be “alter egos” or a “single entity,” and thus TCINY was liable for TCI Switzerland’s debt to the plaintiff.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that the plaintiff had not demonstrated that TCINY was the “alter ego” of TCI Switzerland, and granted TCINY’s summary judgment motion.  In attempting to show that TCINY sufficiently controlled TCI Switzerland to create alter-ego status, the plaintiff presented evidence that TCINY entered into a Consulting Agreement with TCI Switzerland and TCINY’s employees spoke daily with TCI Switzerland’s employees. One of TCINY’s officers sent letters using TCI Switzerland’s letterhead, and there were allegations that TCINY had direct control over TCI Switzerland’s personnel decisions and claims processes.

Nevertheless, the court ruled that the plaintiff had not demonstrated sufficient evidence to warrant piercing the corporate veil. Although the parties differed on which state’s law – either New York or Pennsylvania – should apply, the court found that under either state’s law, the plaintiff had not presented sufficient evidence to overcome the strong presumption against piercing the corporate veil.

Macready et. al. v. TCI Trans Commodities, A.G., et al., Civil Action No. 00–4434, 2011 WL 4835829 (E.D. Penn Oct. 12, 2011).