Conversion is a civil claim akin to the crime of theft. Plaintiffs claiming conversion allege that the defendants have interfered with their ownership or property rights. Unlike criminal theft, the plaintiff in a conversion case does not have to prove an intent to steal. So long as the plaintiff can prove that she has ownership or property rights, that defendant interfered with them, and that defendant had no right to interfere with them, then a conversion claim can be maintained. Whether a defendant interfered with a plaintiff’s property rights with a good, bad, or neutral intention is irrelevant to an action for conversion.
The remedy is for the defendants to stop interfering with plaintiffs’ property rights, to return the misappropriated property, or to compensate plaintiff for the value of the misappropriated property.
Conversion does not require that plaintiff’s personal property be stolen, although that would certainly qualify. Any manner of depriving the owner of possession of her property can be conversion. Defendants must have refused to return the property upon the plaintiff’s request.
An action for conversion can be premised on an improper and unauthorized disposal or relocation of property, such as if a storage facility unlawfully disposes of a renter’s storage boxes. Similarly, if the storage facility unlawfully refuses to allow the plaintiff to access her property, an action for conversion may be sustained.
In many cases, the converted money or property is gone; the person who took it simply does not have it any more. David A. Axelrod & Associates looks for every source from which you might obtain a recovery.
Damages in Conversion Cases
The first remedy in a conversion action is for the defendant to return the converted property to plaintiff. If plaintiff instead desires monetary damages, then she is entitled to the value of the converted property at the time of conversion. In some cases, the court may award consequential damages resulting from the conversion. This means that plaintiff may seek monetary compensation for loss of use from the converted property.
Because conversion is an intentional tort, courts may also award punitive damages to the plaintiff. These damages are meant to punish a defendant for his bad conduct, and are not based on the economic harm to plaintiff.
David A. Axelrod & Associates: Proven Results in Conversion Cases
David A. Axelrod & Associates has successfully represented clients alleging conversion. In one such case, David A. Axelrod & Associates recovered nearly $1.3 million from an international chemical manufacturer for a construction and demolition firm. Using breach of contract, fraud, and conversion claims, the firm successfully showed that the defendant had unlawfully confiscated thousands of pounds of scrap metal that belonged to the client.
David A. Axelrod & Associates also represented the officers of a defunct contractor in suits claiming breach of fiduciary duty and conversion, successfully negotiating settlements for all non-equity holders.