We bought a big load of electronic products for resale from a HongKong company. The money has already wired completely (about $7500). Their product shipments are defective and not enough in quantities. The seller refuses to refund money. So, is there anyway to take back our money ,without travel there ? We do some more research about this Hong Kong Ltd., and found out that its sole member/director is US citizen or at least from US (New York address). All of receipts and payment is made to that Ltd. So, is it technically possible to “pierce the coporate veil” of that HongKong Ltd. in US to sue the US owner ? If that's possible, what is the successful chance for the case like this ? And, how much the cost you think it can be? We really want to do something to get back our money.
So long as the Hong Kong company was properly formed and maintained, you will have great difficulty in piercing the corporate veil. Foreign trade is much more complex that normal business within the US.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
If your question is whether it is legally possible, then the answer is yes. In general. Whether it will be possible in your particular case is impossible to tell from the information you have provided. I would seek an attorney experienced in these kinds of issues. That being said, be aware that this kind of litigation can be VERY expensive and since the amount here is only $7,500 it may not be worth it. Also consider that even if you do prevail and get a judgment, it sounds like you would have a hard time collecting, which means even more costs.
If you could prove the person committed intentional fraud, you would have a chance. In most states, you can sue a person who commits fraud, whether or not it is in the name of a corporation or any other entity. You would have to prove that when the company took your money, it never intended to properly fill your order. If you can't prove fraud, you are probably left with a breach of contract action against the company. Either way, for $7500, the lawsuit would not be economically viable.
This answer is not intended as legal advice and does not establish an attorney/client relationship.
The "alter ego" claim is as my colleagues have said very dependent on the facts. More importantly however is you being "cost effective" in attempting to get some sort of resolution. If you can properly file in San Diego, you could consider a small claims action naming the individual and the company as long as you have a good faith belief that the company is a shell. You may also consider talking with an attorney, setting a budget and seeing if they can negotiate a resolution. In any event many attorneys will offer a free consultation where you can discuss the standard for piercing the veil, whether small claims is properly filed here (venue) and the fact that if you bring the action, there is no right of appeal for you (but there would be for the other parties if you won) and whether negotiation or some other form of resolution (such as arbitration)is an option. The final option is do nothing, but it seems you want to try "something" and getting educated as to your rights and a strategy can be done for little or no cost.
It's a small matter relatively speaking, but if the individual is in NYC you might want to take a crack at him in Civil Court (claims under $25,000). He might appear and settle, or he could default. You can also serve the Hong Kong company through Hague Convention service, which is somewhat costly (at least $500).
The foregoing is not legal advice nor is it in any manner whatsoever meant to create or impute an attorney/client relationship.
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