The Case Against Fiduciary Entity Veil Piercing

40 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2016 Last revised: 10 Jan 2017

See all articles by Mohsen Manesh

Mohsen Manesh

University of Oregon School of Law

Date Written: August 22, 2016


The doctrine of USACafes holds that whenever a business entity (a “fiduciary entity”) exercises control over and, therefore, stands in a fiduciary position to another business entity (the “beneficiary entity”), those persons exercising control, whether directly or indirectly, over the fiduciary entity (the “controller(s)”) owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiary entity and its owners. Focusing on control as the defining element, courts have applied this far-reaching doctrine across all statutory business forms — including corporations, limited partnerships, and LLCs — and through successive tiers of parent-subsidiary entity structure to assign liability to the individuals that ultimately exercise control over an entity. In this respect, USACafes enables what two prominent business law jurists have aptly described as “a particularly odd pattern of routine veil piercing.”

This Article argues that USACafes is a needless doctrine that stands in conflict with other, more fundamental precepts of law and equity. Accordingly, when presented with the opportunity, the courts of Delaware and other jurisdictions should reject its holding. Instead, the law ought to respect the fiduciary entity for what it is: a legal person separate and apart from its owners and controllers. If the limited liability veil of a fiduciary entity is to be pierced, then it should be under the more rigorous legal standard that courts have traditionally applied in veil piercing cases.

Keywords: LLC, LP, limited liability company, limited partnership, general partner, fiduciary duties, veil piercing, legal separateness, limited liability, Delaware

JEL Classification: K2, K22, G3, G34

Suggested Citation

Manesh, Mohsen, The Case Against Fiduciary Entity Veil Piercing (August 22, 2016). Business Lawyer, Vol. 72, Winter 2016-2017, Available at SSRN:

Mohsen Manesh (Contact Author)

University of Oregon School of Law ( email )

70 NW Couch Street
Portland, OR OR 97209
United States
5034123749 (Phone)

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