Charlottesville Conversion Attorneys
Those who have experienced loss due to another taking, using, and/or destroying their rightful belongings (or chattel) can talk with Charlottesville Conversion Attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. for assistance. We understand how much loss can be endured if certain belongings have been taken with intention to harm. We can evaluate your situation to determine whether you have a case for Conversion tort.
Conversion Tort Defined
Conversion is an intentional tort that protects against interference with one’s possessory and ownership interests in personal property. It involves the unauthorized exercise of right of ownership over the personal belongings of another person. The law protects your personal property in a number of ways. Someone else cannot steal property that belongs to you or your company. Nor can someone borrow your property and then use it in a way that is inconsistent with the permission you granted.
Conversion is a single or series of acts that occurred out of willful interference, without legal justification, and deprives another of possession and use. In regards to “willful interference”, this suggests the person acted with intention. Please let our team of Conversion Attorneys in Charlottesville know if any of the following factors apply to your circumstances:
- The property was taken wrongfully
- The property is parted with wrongfully
- The property was sold wrongfully
- The property was retained wrongfully
- The property was destroyed wrongfully
Conversion actions have traditionally been limited to the taking of tangible, personal property, such as jewelry, valuables, and other similar items. Over time, courts have expanded the tort and found intangible property, such as some financial documents, to be implicated as a conversion. For instance, a stock certificate may be the subject of a suit for conversion where the value of the underlying property is found to be merged into the certificate itself.
In addition to common law lawsuits for conversion, Virginia has expanded conversion law by statute to include actions involving checks and other intangible property. Depending on the court and the type of property taken, some Virginia courts have permitted conversion claims based on taking of cash to proceed.
To establish a case of conversion upon which a lawsuit can be based, the plaintiff must establish that
- she owns or has the right to possess the personal property in question at the time of the interference;
- the defendant intentionally interfered with her personal property;
- the interference deprived her of possession or use of the personal property; and
- this interference caused her damage.
Elements of Conversion
The elements listed above are most commonly satisfied when someone takes personal property belonging to another without permission. Virginia Conversion Attorneys often talk with their clients about another form of conversion, which is when someone receives and retains property from someone who does not have the right to give the property away. Additionally, if a person entrusts personal property to someone and they damage or deprive the person of the right to use that property, that person may be liable of conversion. Wrongfully exercising or assuming authority over another’s personal property even in a bailment situation, which deprives the owner of their possession, can constitute conversion.
An owner is entitled to use his or her property at all times. So a person who takes this chattel out of owner’s possession with the intention to have temporary or permanent control over it, has committed Conversion. The person who had taken the belonging it then liable to pay for or return the chattel in every circumstance. It is the responsibility of the taker to return the belonging to its rightful owner, without the requirement of the owner to demand it back. Legally, the duty of care rests with the person who had taken the chattel from the true owner.
Conversion By Detention
If a person has acted in a way that is adverse to the owner of the chattel, then he or she has committed Conversion by detention. The individual interfering must have intentionally kept the belonging in his or her possession with defiance. If a person stumbles upon the chattel that had been lost but wasn’t intentionally in the possession, then he or she cannot be sued for conversion (even if it was kept for a prolonged period of time).
Conversion by Wrongful Disposition
When a person has given to another the right to a good that actually belongs to another (without legal justification), then he or she can be guilty of Conversion by wrongful disposition. For example, a person may have been in possession of chattel with no title but disposed of it through pledge or sale to another. This scenario can be considered Conversion because the true owner had belongings wrongfully disposed of by an individual who had acted with adverse intentions.
Conversion by Wrongful Destruction
When a person commits Conversion due to wrongful destruction, they have destroyed the chattel belonging to someone else without legal justification. It is important to note that if damage were done to the chattel but it was not destroyed entirely, there may not be grounds for a Conversion lawsuit against the offender. The item must no longer be usable in the way it was made to be, in order to be considered Conversion by wrongful destruction. Conversion Attorneys in Charlottesville, VA at MartinWren, P.C. can talk with you further if you are unsure whether your chattel is considered “destroyed” by law.
Unlawful Transfer of Belongings
In addition to the direct forms of conversion, in which an individual assumes the illegal ownership of another’s property, there are also cases in which a legal transfer of property ownership, on a temporary basis, may result in a second conversion in which an unlawful transfer occurs. These are quite complicated cases but can arise even in the midst of a partial transfer that is considered legal and binding.
Call MartinWren, P.C. at (434) 817-3100 and ask for John B. Simpson or Robert E. Byrne, Jr. Our litigation lawyers have the resources and experience to investigate the situation and take prompt and effective action on your behalf. If you have been wrongfully accused of the conversion of property, we encourage you to reach out so our team can mount an effective and successful defense to the conversion claim.
If you have loaned personal property to someone, including types of machinery, equipment, or other goods, and they have interfered with your control and possession of it, contact the Charlottesville Conversion Attorneys at MartinWren, P.C. urgently for representation and guidance.