Civil Theft of a Corporation in Florida

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What is Civil Theft in Florida?

Civil theft is a common law conversion with the criminal intent to steal. See 1-27 Florida Torts § 27.07. Florida Statute 812.014 (2014) states the elements for civil theft as:

(1) knowingly, (2) obtained or used, or endeavored to obtain or use, the plaintiff’s property, (3) with felonious intent, (4) either temporarily or permanently to (a) deprive plaintiff of its right to or a benefit from the property or (b) appropriate the property to the defendant’s own use or to the use of a person not entitle to the property.

What is the Statute of Limitations in Florida?

See Florida Statutes section 812.014 (2014); see also § 16:12 Civil Theft. However, before filing a claim for civil theft, the person claiming injury (plaintiff) must make a written demand for the amount due or treble damage amount. The person to whom the written demand is directed to-the defendant-has 30 days to respond. If a response to the written demand is received, then the defendant is given written release of civil liability for the specific act of theft. The statute of limitations for a civil theft claim is five years and it begins from the time when the conversion was or should have been discovered, rather than when the defendant unlawfully retained the funds.

How do I Pierce the Corporate Veil in Florida?

The Florida Supreme Court has held that a corporation is a separate entity from its shareholders and has a “corporate veil.” Dania Jai-Alai Palace, Inc. v. Sykes, 450 So.2d 114 (Fla. 1984). In order to pierce that corporate veil, “it must be shown that the corporation was organized or used to mislead creditors or to perpetrate a fraud upon them.” Id. at 119-20. However, a civil theft claim may be brought against an officer or representative of a corporation for theft committed by the individual while acting on behalf of the corporation. A-1 Racing Specialties, Inc. v. K&S Imports of Broward County, Inc., 576 So.2d 421, 422 (Fla. 4thDCA 1991). If a corporation officer did not personally participate in the theft, a civil theft claim is not appropriate against the individual. Derrick v. Clemons, 576 So.2d 939, 940 (Fla. 5th DCA 1991). In addition, it has been held that there is no civil theft where there is a contractual relationship. See Zinn v. Zinn, 549 So.2d 1141, 1142 (Fla. 3d DCA 1989) (citing Rosen v. Marlin, 486 So.2d 683 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986)). Note that civil theft does not apply to recovery of contract damages.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Eric P. Gros-Dubois founded EPGD Business Law in 2013 and is the current head of the firm’s corporate, estate planning, and tax practice, and manages the firm’s Washington D.C. office. With a JD and MBA, and a specialization in finance, Eric is able to step back and view the legal world through a commercial lens while also acting as a trusted business advisor for his clients. He does his best to be solutions oriented, and tries to think like a business owner, not just a lawyer.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.



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