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: to see through the usually misleading or false appearance of [the object of summary judgment is to the pleadings and allow a judgment on the merits "J. H. Friedenthal et al."] [the Internal Revenue Service may attempt to the plain meaning of the agreement "W. M. McGovern, Jr. et al."]
pierce the corporate veil
: to disregard the corporate entity and reach the personal assets of the corporation's controlling parties
: hold the controlling parties (as officers or shareholders) of a corporation personally liable for wrongful acts or debts of the corporation [a…creditor in New York cannot pierce the corporate veil solely on grounds of inadequate capitalization "R. C. Clark"] compare corporate immunity at immunity NOTE: An action to pierce the corporate veil is usually grounded on the corporation's being an instrumentality or alter ego of the officers or shareholders and on some misuse (as fraud) of the officers' or shareholders' control over the corporation.
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.