To win a conversion claim, the plaintiff must show that he or she has legal ownership or a superior immediate possessory right or interest in the property that was “converted” and that the defendant excercise dominion over the property or interfered with it, in derogation of the plaintiff’s rights. Pappas v. Tzolis, 20 N.Y.3d 228, 234 (2012); Tudisco v. Duerr, 89 A.D.3d 1372, 1373 (4th Dep’t 2011).  Conversion occurs when there is a refusal to return the property upon demand. Salatino v. Salatino, 64 A.D.3d 923, 925 (3d Dep’t 2009).  A cause of action for conversion accrues when the conversion takes place. Sporn v. MCA Records, 58 N.Y.2d 482, 487 (1983); see also, Lennon v. Seaman, 63 F. Supp.2d 428, 440 (S.D.N.Y. 1999); Seneca Ins. Co. v. Wilcock, 2002 WL 1067828, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. 2002).    Conversion cannot be maintained where the damages are merely being sought for a breach of contract.  Melcher v. Apollo Med. Fund Mgmt LLC, 25 A.D.3d 482, 483 (1st Dept. 2006); Fesseha v. TD Waterhouse Inv. Servs, 305 A.D.2d 268, 269 (1st Dep’t 2003); Peters Griffin Woodward, Inc. v. WCSC Inc., 88 A.D.2d 883, 884 (1st Dep’t 1982).   While money may be the subject of a conversion claim, it must be specifically identified and segregated, and there must be an obligation to return or otherwise treat the specific fund in a particular manner.  Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. v. Chemical Bank, 160 A.D.2d 113, 124 (1st Dept. 1990).

If you have been harmed by a conversion or need to defend a conversion claim for property that is rightfully in your possession, contact us online or call Scott Lanin, Esq. at (212) 764-7250 Ext.201. We offer a free phone consult to review and evaluate your case or you can schedule an office consult.

Claims for conversion are often combined with claims for breach of contract, account statedunjust enrichment and quantum meruit, depending on the case. Explore these other claims by clicking on each link here or view our main menu above.