ST. LOUIS – A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently granted a motion to dismiss a complaint that sought to "pierce a corporate veil" in order to satisfy a $4.1 million judgment against the owners of a downtown St. Louis parking garage.
In her Oct. 25 order, U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry sided with the garage owners, Tucker Parking Equities and Tucker Parking Holdings – the Tucker entities – in the action brought by Central Parking System Inc. seeking to obtain the $4.1 million it was awarded in state court over the near collapse the parking garage.
According to the order, the Tucker entities do not have sufficient assets to satisfy the judgment. In seeking to get a hold of the $4.1 million judgment, Central Park sought to pierce a corporate veil arguing that the Tucker entities are "sham organizations and the alter egos or instrumentalities of several other entities and individuals."
"Because Central Parking has failed to state a claim to pierce the corporate veil, I will grant defendants' motion to dismiss," Perry said in her order.
Central Parking had brought the matter to federal court after it had won at the trial court level and Missouri Court of Appeals in 2017.
The appeals court concluded that garage owners Tucker Parking Holdings and Tucker Parking Equities were responsible for expenses related to evacuating and stabilizing the 50-year-old, multilevel garage at 306-310 N. Tucker Blvd.
Perry wrote that Central Parking did not adequately plead facts to support an inference that any of the owner-member defendants operated the Tucker entities "with such complete domination and control that the entities had no separate mind, will, or existence of their own."
Central Parking alleged only that the Tucker entities had no cash or source of revenue since March 2015, that their investors transferred approximately $680,380 in capital between 2015 and 2017 to prosecute claims against Central Parking, and that defendant Bryan Becker personally guaranteed the payment of related legal fees, Perry said.. "A principal lending money to the corporation for litigation purposes shows nothing improper."
Perry dismissed the Central Parking complaint without prejudice.
"The facts alleged in the complaint – that a business entity that owned a parking garage since 2007 became insolvent in 2015 and received capital contributions from its investors in 2015 to provide for the legal defense and prosecution of claims involving the garage – are insufficient for me to draw a reasonable inference that the owner-investor defendants acted with the requisite degree of control and complete domination over the entity to justify piercing the corporate veil," she wrote.