North Carolina law provides a number of civil claims entitling plaintiffs to sue a party that has acted wrongfully. Among the more common and understandable claims is conversion, which is essentially a civil claim for theft or stealing. The North Carolina Supreme Court in the recent case Variety Wholesalers, Inc. v. Salem Logistics Traffic Services, LLC defined conversion as the “unauthorized assumption and exercise of the right of ownership over goods or personal chattels belonging to another, to the alteration of their condition or the exclusion of an owner’s rights.”
To prevail on a conversion claim, you need to establish two elements:
- (1) that you are the proper owner of the property and
- (2) that the property is or has been wrongfully possessed and converted by the defendant.
Conversion claims can range from very simple to very complex; conversion is commonly pled in lawsuits involving as little as a few thousand dollars to cases involving millions.
One of the more simple examples of a situation where a conversion claim would be appropriate is where an employee has stolen company equipment. Of course, there are also more complex fact patterns and the Variety Wholesalers case is a prime example. Salem Logistics provided shipping auditing services to Variety Wholesalers. As part of the relationship, Salem accepted funds from Variety Wholesalers which Variety would distribute to its shipping vendors. The problem arose when Salem went bankrupt and Variety learned that a third-party, Ark Royal Capital, owned Salem’s bank account. When Variety requested Ark return nearly $900,000.00 that had been given by Variety for Salem to pay Variety’s shippers, Ark refused. As a result, Variety filed an action against Ark alleging a claim for conversion. The Supreme Court reversed an initial victory by Variety and determined a jury trial would be necessary.
The North Carolina conversion claim attorneys of Maginnis Howard offer free consultations to all prospective clients. To schedule a meeting or to discuss your conversion case, call the firm’s downtown Raleigh office at (919) 526-0450. You may also send a confidential message regarding the details of your case using our contact page.