In Michigan, the common law tort of conversion occurs by any distinct act of dominion that is wrongfully exerted over another’s personal property.
A conversion occurs by any conduct that is inconsistent with the true owner’s property rights. Statutory conversion under MCL 2919a is similar, but statutory conversion requires a showing that the alleged convertor used the converted property for some purpose personal to the convertor’s interests.
The bonus here is that under §2919a one has the potential of recovering three times the amount of actual damages, plus the costs and reasonable attorney fees incurred to bring the claim.
To bring a conversion action the plaintiff must show a superior title or possessory right to the converted property at the time of the claimed conversion. Pretty straight forward stuff, one would think.
So what if one holds personal property based on a claimed purchase of the property, but under circumstances where the property was not actually paid for? If the supposed purchaser transfers or sells the property having never actually paid for it, is there a conversion? As in many instances, the answer is “maybe yes and maybe no.”
In Michigan, the law is clear that possessing property based on a claimed credit purchase is not a conversion. However, this is only true if the owner/seller has voluntarily consented to the debtor-creditor relationship. Without proof of such status between a supposed buyer and seller, actionable conversion may still be found.
To avoid this potential pitfall, it is always important to properly document any sale of personal property. In business, and particularly concerning property sales, stuff happens. Without proper documentation of a contractual sale, your contract may turn into a very expensive tort.
Matthew J. Boettcher is a partner in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office and Co-leader of Plunkett Cooney’s Commercial Litigation Practice Group. He concentrates his practice in the area of commercial litigation with ...
Add a comment
SubscribeRSS Plunkett Cooney LinkedIn Page Plunkett Cooney Twitter Page Plunkett Cooney Facebook Page
- Commercial Liability
- Business Risk Management
- Business Torts
- Commercial Real Estate
- Civil Litigation
- Real Estate
- Real Estate Mortgages
- Commercial Leasing
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Commercial Loans
- Mortgage Foreclosure
- Shareholder Liability
- Class Action
- Product Liability
- Tax Law
- Fraud Activity
- Risk Management
- Cyber Attack
- Biometric Data
- Banking Law
- Statute of Limitations
- Internet Law
- Non-compete Agreements
- Residential Liability
- Zoning and Planning
- Consumer Protection
- Department of Education (DOE)
- Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- Unfair Competition
- Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
- Does Sympathy or Empathy Have a Place in the Courtroom?
- No Light Yet at End of COVID-19 Real Estate Tunnel
- When are Clear, Unambiguous Contracts Nonetheless Ambiguous?
- What the Future may Hold for Michigan Real Estate Foreclosures and Evictions
- The Dispute Subject to Arbitration, or is it? Who Decides?
- Illinois Supreme Court Slams Courthouse Door on Non-residents' Product Liability Claims Against Non-resident Defendants for Injuries Suffered Outside State
- Supreme Court Rules Fully Funded Pension Plans Cannot be Sued Under ERISA for Mismanagement
- A Day in Someone Else’s Shoes: Can Mortgagees Challenge Ad Valorem Assessments?
- Landlords may be able to Recover Future Damages Even After Tenants Vacate Leased Premises
- A Deeper Dive Into Minority Owner Oppression Claims