Conversion occurs when a person exercises his rights over another’s property in a manner inconsistent with the individual’s right of possession. Let’s explore the intentional tort of conversion with Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys. Conversion refers to the improper possessions of another’s property without due authority or a lawful justification.
It is a civil wrong for which the victims can pursue a civil lawsuit to recover damages under the intentional tort of conversion. The tort applies to chattels (personal property), not real property such as land.
“0:00 What is a conversion under tort law? The
0:03 tort of conversion is where someone
0:06 actually converts your property to their
0:10 own use. It’s similar to a trespass to a
0:13 chattel except that in the tort of
0:16 conversion the property is completely
0:18 dominated and maintained. And it’s never
0:21 going to be returned and therefore it’s
0:23 been converted and because of that you
0:27 are allowed to sue for the full value of
0:29 that property and oftentimes if the
0:33 property is not transferred to a bona
0:35 fide purchaser for value you can still
0:39 go ahead and get a court order to get
0:41 the property back.”
A plaintiff must have to prove the following elements of conversion if they bring a conversion claim against the defendant:
There are different ways a person may commit the act of conversion, and these include the following:
The immediate or rightful owner deprived of their property can sue in a conversion claim. Interestingly, a person possessing stolen property may also be able to pursue damages. In Costello v. Chief Constable, the plaintiff sued the police for not returning the car after they took it, believing it was stolen. The police argued that they thought it was a stolen vehicle, justifying their actions of retaining it.
However, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, stating that the defendant had the temporary right to possession, and once that was over, it was the plaintiff’s right to possession over the car.
Generally, the remedy for conversion is monetary damages equal to the property’s fair market value at the time of conversion. The plaintiff may also recover any losses arising from the conversion.
For example, if a person takes another’s bicycle without permission for a few days causing them to miss work, and returns it damaged, the plaintiff can pursue the fair market value of the chattel and lost wages for the days they missed work.
The following are some of the defenses under the conversion tort law:
Conversion is a wrongful taking of property from the person entitled to immediate possession, while a trespass to chattels is a wrong done to the actual possessor. Trespass to chattels is a lesser form of conversion, and the defendant is only responsible for the damage to the property. In contrast, the remedy for a conversion case is a full and fair market value of the damaged property.
If someone is interfering with your property rights, you may be eligible to bring a conversion claim. Contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.
Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.