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Conversion Cases Summarized By Injury Lawyer

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Conversion and the related topic of intentional torts.   For more information on conversion matters see the pages on Wikipedia

Conversion-Statutes

See Va. Code § 18-2-104.1 indicating that person convicted under concealment statute may be civilly liable for retail value of merchandise along with costs incurred by merchant in prosecuting action.

Conversion-Cases

2011 Condominium Services, Inc. v. First Owners’ Ass’n., 281 Va. 561, 709 S.E.2d 163.
The allegation here is that, after a management contract had ended, the management firm opened a bank account by falsely representing authorization from the other party to do so and then directed the unit owners of this condominium to send money owed to the Owners’ Association to the condominium service company. Because the management agreement had ended, the alleged act referenced above did constitute an independent willful tort of conversion.

2004 Halifax Corp. v. Wachovia Bank, 268 Va. 641, 604 S.E.2d 403.
Over four-year period, comptroller of plaintiff corporation embezzled over $15 million by writing checks against accounts with defendant bank and depositing them into other accounts at defendant bank. Plaintiff alleged conversion and aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty. Without deciding whether or not claim for aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty exist, the court properly held that insufficient facts were alleged to state such a claim. The claim for conversion had been displaced by Va. Code § 8.3A-420(a).

2003 PGI, Inc. v. Rathe Prods., Inc., 265 Va. 334, 576 S.E.2d 438.
Conversion includes any wrongful exercise or assumption of authority over another’s goods depriving him of their possession and any act of dominion wrongfully exerted over property and denial of the owner’s right or inconsistent with it. In this case, Rathe received $250,000 from the Smithsonian but refused to pay any of the proceeds to PGI or to pay the outstanding billing of another entity, contrary to express agreement to do so. Jury was entitled to find that Rathe without justification wrongfully withheld settlement proceeds from PGI. This is sufficient to properly allege claim for conversion. Rathe did not inform PGI that it had received the $250,000. In this case, reasonable persons could disagree as to whether conduct in question was so willful and wanton to show a conscious disregard of the rights of others and therefore, the punitive damage claim should not have been stricken by the trial court.

2001 Simmons v. Miller, 261 Va. 561, 544 S.E.2d 666.
Person is liable for conversion for wrongful exercise or assumption of authority over another’s goods, depriving owner of their possession or any act of dominion wrongfully exerted over property in denial of or inconsistent with owner’s rights.

2000 Economopoulos v. Kolaitis, 259 Va. 806, 528 S.E.2d 714.
Conversion is wrongful assumption or exercise of right of ownership over goods belonging to another in denial of or inconsistent with owner’s rights. In this case, plaintiffs were not entitled to immediate possession of treasury bills at the time they were alleged to have been converted. In light of this, there is no conversion.

1998 Hartzell Fan, Inc. v. Waco, Inc., 256 Va. 294, 505 S.E.2d 196.
Manufacturer signed contract with Virginia corporation to act as sales representative on commission basis. Certain customers ordered manufacturer’s products and sent checks to sales representative who then improperly endorsed checks and deposited them into own account. This conduct by sales representative did constitute conversion. Conversion consists of wrongful exercise or assuming authority over another’s goods, depriving him of their possession.

1997 Perk v. Vector Resources Group, 253 Va. 310, 485 S.E.2d 140.
Plaintiff alleges theft of computer programs, data and software. Defendant maintained that these are nothing more than lists of Riverside’s debtors which belong solely to Riverside. Character of these items and question whether these items had value to plaintiff are matters of proof which were improperly decided on demurrer.

1995 Town & Country Props. v. Riggins, 249 Va. 387, 457 S.E.2d 356.
Plaintiff sued defendant for use of plaintiff’s name in sale of plaintiff’s former home. One’s name and likeness are a property interest. Conversion occurs when, as here, defendant uses another’s personal property as his own and exercises dominion over it without the owner’s consent.

1994 United Leasing Corp. v. Thrift Ins. Corp., 247 Va. 299, 440 S.E.2d 902.
Conversion is any wrongful exercise or assumption of authority over another’s goods, depriving him of their possession and any act of dominion wrongfully exerted over property in denial of the owner’s right or inconsistent with it. Action for conversion can be maintained only by one who has property interest in and is entitled to immediate possession of thing alleged to have been wrongfully converted. Cause of action for conversion does not encompass claims for interference with undocumented intangible property rights such as those asserted here, i.e., right to obtain adjudication that other party must honor forged stock certificate.

1993 Bader v. Central Fidelity Bank, 245 Va. 286, 427 S.E.2d 184.
Plaintiff asserted action permitted by Va. Code § 8.3-419, which provides that instrument is converted when it is paid on forged endorsement. Conversion is any wrongful exercise or assumption of authority, personally or by procurement, over another’s goods. It carries with it a five-year statute of limitations. Plaintiff in this case alleged that bank wrongfully exercised authority over her funds by having paid them to her husband based on a forged endorsement.

1988 Roughton Pontiac Corp. v. Alston, 236 Va. 152, 372 S.E.2d 147.
Employee of car dealership repossessed auto without authorization. There was no evidence that employer directed employee to take this action. Jury verdict exonerated employee. Jury verdict against employer. Since employer’s liability is purely derivative and since verdict for employee not appealed, final judgment must be entered for employer.

1983 Sachs v. Hoffman, 224 Va. 545, 299 S.E.2d 343.
Expert testimony was sufficient to support award of damages for rental losses resulting from removal of equipment from building used for food processing and catering.

1981 Peacock Buick, Inc. v. Durkin, 221 Va. 1133, 277 S.E.2d 225.
Plaintiff purchased auto and after accepting delivery was informed that trade-in value was $1000 too high. Plaintiff refused to pay extra amount and defendant then took keys from plaintiff. Verdict for plaintiff.

1981 Sampson v. Sampson, 221 Va. 896, 275 S.E.2d 597.
Evidence as to unlawful taking was circumstantial. Jury could reasonably infer that defendants had taken more than they admitted taking. Evaluation of property in question was based on hearsay that should not have been admitted. This portion of damages is not recoverable.

1951 Mullins v. Sturgill, 192 Va. 653, 66 S.E.2d 483.
Discussion of conversion as it relates to mining equipment on leased land.

1944 Douthat v. Chesapeake & O. Ry., 182 Va. 811, 30 S.E.2d 578.
Defendant is alleged to have removed stone from plaintiff’s property. Measure of damage was diminution of fair market value of real estate.

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Conversion Cases Summarized By Injury Lawyer

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