Charlottesville Conversion Attorneys
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 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.
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 example, 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.
These elements are most commonly satisfied when someone takes personal property belonging to another without permission. Another form of conversion, however, is committed if 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.
In addition to these 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.
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. Likewise, if you have been wrongfully accused of the conversion of property, let the Charlottesville Conversion Lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. help you mount an effective and successful defense to the conversion claim. Call MartinWren, P.C. at (434) 817-3100 and ask for John B. Simpson or Robert E. Byrne, Jr. Our business litigation lawyers have the resources and experience to investigate the situation and take prompt and effective action on your behalf.