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Finding Corporate Culprits

Finding Corporate Culprits
Brien Roche

Sometimes identifying the correct defendant is a difficult task. That defendant may be a corporation. It may be an LLC. It may be a partnership or a sole proprietorship that trades under a trade name. It may be a wholly-owned subsidiary of another entity.

Finding the correct culprit to sue can be difficult. There are several steps however that can be taken to identify that entity.

Finding Corporate Culprits-Lexis and West Law

If you subscribe to either Lexis or West Law, they have an excellent public records search function that allows you to search both people and entities. That may reveal a broad swath of information.

Public Records

Every state has the equivalent of a State Corporation Commission. Running a variety of names of the entity through this database may turn up a lot of details. In Virginia, once you identify the entity, you can access online most of its public filings going back several years. Those public filings may include any trade name certificates, annual reports, and reporting of board of directors. Also, keep in mind that an LLC typically has limited reporting requirements. When I say limited, I mean they are much more limited than what applies to a corporation.

Court Records

If you can find where the entity is based, then doing a search of the court records of that court of general jurisdiction may be helpful.

Reporting Requirements that May Provide a Good Bit of Information

Publicly traded companies have to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There may be a wealth of information there.

Finding Corporate Culprits-Internet Searches

Using Google or your favorite search engine may turn up a wealth of information. As part of this search you may want to go to the Wayback Machine. The Wayback Machine is an archive. It holds old websites.  In other words, the website that existed in 2019 for a company may have changed. You may be able to find that old website back at the time of the event in question.

In addition, a search operator that Google now recognizes may allow you to conduct a search today that would produce the same results as what you would have gotten two years ago. For instance let’s say you want to find out what would have turned up before May 30, 2019 if you had done a search for “ABX Corporation”. You can do that search by keying in the terms “ABX Corporation before:2019-05-30” without quotes. That should give you the results that would have been shown for a search conducted of that entity before May 30, 2019. That may be helpful to you in terms of finding what was being reported about that entity and perhaps what the entity was reporting about itself.

Other Members of the Bar

Simply reaching out to other members of AAJ, your state trial lawyers association or local groups may produce a wealth of information. Other attorneys may have already done the search that you’re about to do.

Need Legal Assistance in the DMV Area?

Call, or contact us for a free consult. For more info on finding corporate culprits see the Wikipedia pages. Also, see the post on this site dealing with contract issues.


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