What is conversion?

Conversion Defined and Required Elements

“Conversion is the wrongful exercise of dominion over the property of another.” (Lee v. Hanley (2015) 61 Cal.4th 1225, 1240 citing Welco Electronics, Inc. v. Mora (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 202, 208.)

“The elements of a conversion claim are:

  1. the plaintiff’s ownership or right to possession of the property;
  2. the defendant's conversion by a wrongful act or disposition of property rights; and
  3. damages.”

(Id.)

A cause of action for conversion requires allegations of plaintiff's ownership or right to possession of property;  defendant's wrongful act toward or disposition of the property, interfering with plaintiff's possession;  and damage to plaintiff.  (Burlesci v. Petersen (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 1062, 1066, 80 Cal.Rptr.2d 704.)

Money as Basis for Conversion

“Money cannot be the subject of a cause of action for conversion unless there is a specific, identifiable sum involved, such as where an agent accepts a sum of money to be paid to another and fails to make the payment. (McKell v. Washington Mutual, Inc. (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 1457, 1491, citing Fischer v. Machado (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1069, 1072–73.) By contrast, a “generalized claim for money [is] not actionable as conversion.” (Vu v. California Commerce Club, Inc. (1997) 58 Cal.App.4th 229, 235.) As long as there is a definite sum involved, however, “it is not necessary that each coin or bill be earmarked.” (Weiss v. Marcus (1975) 51 Cal.App.3d 590, 599, citing Haigler v. Donnelly (1941) 18 Cal.2d 674, 681.)

Thus, in Chazen v. Centennial Bank (1998) 61 Cal.App.4th 532, 543, 71 Cal.Rptr.2d 462, the plaintiffs stated a cause of action for conversion where the bank took funds from trust accounts to pay the trustee's personal indebtedness.

Breach of Bailment Action and Conversion

“In connection with the breach of bailment cause of action, [where] plaintiffs did not allege that defendants were holding their payments on behalf of another, in essence in trust for the third party vendors ...[and] Plaintiffs cite no authority for the proposition that a cause of action for conversion may be based on an overcharge....   [c]onsequently, they have failed to demonstrate that they have stated a cause of action for conversion.”  (McKell v. Washington Mutual, Inc. (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 1457, 1491 citing City of Atascadero v. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., supra, 68 Cal.App.4th at p. 459, 80 Cal.Rptr.2d 329;  Mansell v. Board of Administration, supra, 30 Cal.App.4th at pp. 545-546, 35 Cal.Rptr.2d 574.)

“Conversion also occurs when the defendant applies property to his or her own use.” (Oakdale Village Group, supra, 43 Cal.App.4th at p. 544.) Additionally, “[t]he unauthorized transfer of property constitutes a conversion.” (Welco Electronics, Inc. v. Mora (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 202, 209.)

Useful Rulings on Conversion

Recent Rulings on Conversion

MARK LIU VS XUEFAN LIU

Zhang”) and Does 1-10 for: Breach of Contract Fraud Conversion Common Counts (i.e., Money Had and Received) On November 9, 2019, X. Liu’s and S. Zhang’s defaults were entered. On July 23, 2020, Plaintiff dismissed L. Zhang, without prejudice. An Order to Show Cause Re: Failure to Proceed with Default Judgment is set for January 12, 2021. Discussion Plaintiff’s Application for Default Judgment is DENIED without prejudice. The following defects are noted: S. Zhang’s liability remains unclear.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Real Property

  • Sub Type

    Landlord Tenant

HAI YING RUAN, ET AL. VS CUONG THOAI DIEP, ET AL.

If Plaintiffs’ case theory rests on the idea that Moving Defendants are liable because they aided and abetted the other defendants in this case, while not directly engaging in the tortious acts complained of, this tort needs to be pled as a separate cause of action specifically against these Moving Defendants, and not consolidated into the causes of action for conversion, fraud, etc. as against the other defendants not part of this motion.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

CARRIEN QIAN HE, AN INDIVIDUAL VS JAY MIN CHEN, AN INDIVIDUAL, ET AL.

On February 20, 2019, He filed a complaint, asserting causes of action against Defendants Chen, Hung and XTR, Nominal Defendant Globalinks and Does 1-30 for: Conversion Unauthorized Transfer of Corporate Assets Breach of Fiduciary Duty Embezzlement Fraud and Concealment Negligent Misrepresentation and Concealment Unjust Enrichment Removal of Director Corp Code § 304 Accounting Declaratory Relief Violation of Business & Professions Code §§ 17200, et seq.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

XIAOXING ZHANG VS ZHE ZHANG, ET AL.

“The elements of a conversion claim are: (1) the plaintiff's ownership or right to possession of the property; (2) the defendant's conversion by a wrongful act or disposition of property rights; and (3) damages.” (Hodges v. County of Placer (2019) 41 Cal.App.5th 537, 551.) The Court agrees with Zhang.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

DAVID BABAIE, ET AL. VS TRANS WEST INVESTIGATIONS, INC., A CORPORATION, ET AL.

“In cases of interference with possession of personal property not amounting to conversion, ‘the owner has a cause of action for trespass or case, and may recover only the actual damages suffered by reason of the impairment of the property or the loss of its use.’” (Intel Corp. v. Hamidi (2003) 30 Cal.4th 1342, 1351, emphasis in original, internal quotations omitted.)

  • Hearing

SHEETZ V. COUNTY OF EL DORADO

In finding that a residential hotel conversion and demolition ordinance (HCO) is not subject to the Nollan/Dolan test, because the HCO does not provide City staff or administrative bodies with any discretion as to the imposition or size of a housing replacement fee, the City did not single out plaintiffs for payment of a housing replacement fee and the HCO is generally applicable legislation in that it applies, without discretion or discrimination, to every residential hotel in the city, an appellate court stated

  • Hearing

CATHERINE M PACAS VS MANINDER KAUR

On August 27, 2019, Plaintiff commenced this action for (1) failure to pay overtime wages; (2) failure to pay minimum wages; (3) conversion of gratuities; (4) statutory penalty under Labor Code section 203; (5) statutory penalty under Labor Code section 226; (6) statutory penalty under Labor Code section 226.7; and (7) unfair business practices pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17200. On July 15, 2020, the Court granted Plaintiff’s three motions to compel further discovery responses.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Employment

  • Sub Type

    Other Employment

RAELENE M. RAMOS ET AL. V. LINDA J. BOWLBY, ET AL.

Plaintiffs’ complaint alleges causes of action for: (1) declaratory relief, (2) declaratory relief, (3) cancellation of instrument, (4) financial elder abuse, (5) rescission of instrument, (6) conversion, (7) quiet title, and (8) injunctive relief. Plaintiff Raelene M. Ramos and Defendant Linda J. Bowlby are sisters. Their father was John L. Hindmarsh (John or Decedent), who passed away on February 4, 2020 in San Luis Obispo County. Plaintiff Annastasia C.

  • Hearing

GENESIS MEDIA LLC VS OWNZONES MEDIA NETWORK INC ET AL

Genesis’ Complaint alleges the following causes of action: (1) breach of contract against Ownzones, (2) rescission and restitution based upon fraud against Ownzones, (3) breach of fiduciary duty against Ownzones, (4) conversion against Ownzones and Goman, (5) claim and delivery against Ownzones and Goman, (6) accounting against Ownzones and Goman, (7) declaratory relief against Ownzones and Goman. On June 18, 2018, Genesis filed a First Amended Complaint.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

MASSIS DANIELIAN VS RICHARD DENOGEAN, ET AL.

In this instant lawsuit, Plaintiffs allege in the conversion cause of action that at the time they vacated the property, they were unable to immediately secure all their personal property for removal. (19BBCV01045 SAC, ¶17.( In the negligence cause of action, they allege that Mission, Richard, and Hong negligently failed to allow Plaintiffs to secure their personal property. (Id., ¶24.)

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    other

HERNANDEZ VS KADVA PATIDAR 42 GAM SAMAJ

“With respect to situations outside of those set forth above, we stated: “Generally, outside the insurance context, ‘a tortious breach of contract … may be found when (1) the breach is accompanied by a traditional common law tort, such as fraud or conversion; (2) the means used to breach the contract are tortious, involving deceit or undue coercion; or, (3) one party intentionally breaches the contract intending or knowing that such a breach will cause severe, unmitigable harm in the form of mental anguish,

  • Hearing

MH PILLARS LTD VS PAYMENTWORLD LIMITED ET AL

BACKGROUND Plaintiff filed a complaint arising from a breach of a Merchant Agreement (the “Agreement”) to provide credit card processing services, alleging causes of action for: (1) breach of contract—including covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (2) conversion; (3) rescission and restitution; (4) fraud and deceit; (5) unfair competition law; and (6) accounting.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

CITY NATIONAL BANK, A NATIONAL BANKING ASSOCIATION VS ALINA YALANSKA, IN HER CAPACITY AS EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF BARRY K. ROTHMAN, ET AL.

Rothman Revocable Trust (the “Trust”), filed a lawsuit against Banc of California (“Banc”) in the Banc Action, asserting causes of action for, inter alia, financial elder abuse and conversion. Mot. Ex. F. Yalanska’s counsel, R. Lance Belsome, Esq. (“Belsome”), filed a declaration on May 14, 2019 (“Belsome Declaration”) confirming Defendants have made little to no effort to collect the A/R or preserve its value following Rothman’s death. Id.

  • Hearing

DELLA K. EARLS, ET AL. VS TONI WEBER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS TRUSTEE OF THE BRADFORD FAMILY LIVING TRUST, DATED SEPTEMBER 14, 1999, ET AL.

The court finds that the gravamen of Plaintiff’s claims concern breach of Defendants’ fiduciary duties, breach of oral leases, breach of written Trust, Conversion, and Accounting. The claims allege elder abuse, verbal abuse, and harassment. These claims are only incidentally related to the act of serving the 30 day notice to quit, not Defendants’ tortious underlying actions for the claims. Pursuant to Martinez v.

  • Hearing

  • Judge

    Lori Ann Fournier or Olivia Rosales

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

CVS STORES WAGE AND HOUR CASES

Eliminate reference to released “related common law claims for conversion, other alleged tortious conduct, breach of contract and misrepresentation.” (3) Provide 45 days to submit workweek disputes. (4) Note that at final approval the court enters judgment rather than dismissing the cases. Also the court will not enjoin class members from pursuing released claims (the res judicata effect comes from following due process requirements for class actions). See para. 62 of Settlement.

  • Hearing

DEVIN WEISBERG VS JAURIGUE LAW GROUP, ET AL.

Dahl (2012) 205 Cal.App.4th 1039, 1060); conversion (Spates v. Dameron Hospital Assn. (2003) 114 Cal.App.4th 208, 221); and breach of fiduciary duty (Ash v. North American Title Co. (2014) 223 Cal.App.4th 1258, 1276).

  • Hearing

FINANCIAL SERVICES VEHICLE TRUST, BY AND THROUGH ITS SERVICER BMW FINANCIAL SERVICES NA, LLC, A DELAWARE LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY VS ARMEN MELIKYAN, ET AL.

On April 4, 2019, and August 22, 2019, Plaintiff filed a complaint then verified first amended complaint on for Breach of Contract, Common Count, Claim and Delivery, Conversion, Fraud, Quiet Title, Declaratory Relief, and Injunctive Relief. On September 4, 2020, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Stay as to individual defendant, Armen Melikyan. A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition was filed on August 25, 2020. RULING: Granted.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Real Property

  • Sub Type

    Landlord Tenant

LINDA GOODMAN VS PARIMORE ENTERTAINMENT LLC., A CA LTD. LIAB. CO., ET AL.

Plaintiff filed a first amended complaint (FAC) on September 18, 2020, alleging claims for: (1) breach of contract; (2) open book accounting; and (3) conversion. Attorney James Christensen (Christensen) filed a motion to be relieved as Parimore’s counsel on October 19, 2020. Christensen is also counsel for Michelle but has filed a substitution of attorney as to her. II.

  • Hearing

CITY OF CALEXICO VS. KEELY MARTIN BOSLER AS DIRECTOR OF THE CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE

On November 8, 2017, the District sued the City for breach of contract, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, conversion and declaratory relief (Complaint). (AR, 439-447.)

  • Hearing

COLOREDGE, INC., A DELAWARE CORPORATION, VS EDIE GELARDI, AN INDIVIDUAL,, ET AL.

As a result of these allegations, Plaintiff filed its Complaint on January 22, 2019, and its operative First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) on June 06, 2019, alleging eight causes of action sounding in (1) Unfair Competition; (2) Breach of Fiduciary Duty; (3) Breach of Duty of Loyalty; (4) Tortuous Interference with At-Will Employment; (5) Intentional Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage; (6) Conversion; (7) Violation of California Penal Code §502; and (8) Unjust Enrichment.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Business

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

MELBE ZEPEDA VS GUSTAVO RODRIGUEZ

The complaint, filed April 24, 2020, alleges causes of action for: (1) breach of oral contract; (2) conversion; (3) fraud; and (4) unjust enrichment. On July 7, 2020, Defendant filed an answer.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

PAWNEE LEASING CORPORATION VS SUNDIAL INDUSTRIES, INC., A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, ET AL.

The complaint, filed September 18, 2020, alleges causes of action for: (1) breach of written agreement; (2) breach of personal guaranty; (3) open book account; (4) reasonable value; (5) account stated; (6) indebtedness; (7) unjust enrichment; (8) claim and delivery; and (9) conversion. B.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Real Property

  • Sub Type

    Landlord Tenant

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

TD AUTO FINANCE LLC VS NEW TECH AUTO CARE, A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, ET AL.

The complaint, filed June 24, 2020, alleges causes of action for: (1) breach of contract; (2) conversion; (3) claim and delivery; (4) quiet title; and (5) TRO, preliminary and permanent injunctions, and damages.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Collections

  • Sub Type

    Promisory Note

  • County

    Los Angeles County, CA

MIKLOS MEDVEI VS HOPE ENTERPRISES, LLC, A CALIFORNIA LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY

Medvei’s operative Complaint alleges causes of action as follows: (1) violation of Civil Code §1950.5, (2) violation of Los Angeles Municipal Code § 151.06.02, (2) breach of contract, (4) conversion against all defendants. On March 5, 2020, Hope LLC filed its cross-complaint against Plaintiff and Adrien Medvei (“Cross-Defendants”) for breach of contract and apportionment of fault.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Business

  • Sub Type

    Intellectual Property

BARBARA A. COHEN VS OREN ABUTBUL, ET AL.

Bitton, and American Contractors Indemnity Company asserting causes of action for (1) Breach of Contract; (2) Breach of the Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (3) Negligence; (4) Negligence Per Se; (5) Fraudulent Inducement; (6) Fraud/Promise Without Intent to Perform; (7) Breach of Express and Implied Warranties; (8) Recovery on Contractors’ License Bonds; (9) Disgorgement; (10) Elder Financial Abuse; and (11) Conversion.

  • Hearing

  • Type

    Personal Injury/ Tort

  • Sub Type

    Fraud

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