Iv. [§ 3.17] Trover and Conversion-Wrongful Taking



John Smith owned an art gallery. George Harris also owned an art gallery and obtained permission from Smith to remove certain objects from Smith's gallery to sell in his own gallery. However, Harris visited Smith's gallery when Smith was not there and removed certain objects which Harris had no right to remove. Smith sued Harris for conversion.


Trover and Conversion—Wrongful Taking

John Smith (hereinafter "Smith"), Plaintiff, by his attorneys, Eunjoo Kim and Kim & Kim, P.A., sues George Harris (hereinafter "Harris"), Defendant, and states:
1. Plaintiff Smith is a resident of Baltimore County, Maryland. He is engaged in the business of the sale of art works to dealers and the general public.
2. Defendant Harris is a resident of Baltimore County, Maryland. He also is engaged in the business of the sale of art works to dealers and the general public.
3. On or about June 1, 2021, Defendant Harris requested certain art objects from Smith for placement in Harris's gallery. Harris, as was his custom and practice, intended to sell said objects on a commission basis.
4. Plaintiff Smith agreed to the request and invited Harris to his gallery to select the art works, but only art works located in an identified wing in Smith's gallery. Smith advised Harris that on the day Harris intended to visit Smith's gallery to make his selections, Smith would be out of town.
5. On July 3, 2021, Harris visited Smith's art gallery. Harris selected twenty-four (24) art works of Smith's, which Harris should not have selected, and removed those objects from Smith's gallery. Harris told Smith's assistant that he was authorized to remove the art works, and the assistant, relying upon this representation, did not object.
6. Harris's removal of the said twenty-four (24) art works was not previously agreed upon, was intentional, without permission or justification, and constituted a conversion of Smith's property.
7. Smith's property had a value in excess of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000) at the time of the conversion.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff Smith demands judgment against Defendant Harris for compensatory damages in excess of Seventy-Five Thousand Dollars ($75,000), with interest and costs, and such other relief as this Court may deem proper.

Eunjoo Kim
Kim & Kim, P.A.
AIS No. 0123456789
250 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Phone: (410) 555-1234
Fax: (410) 555-1235
Email: EKim@KimLaw.com

Attorneys for Plaintiff


Trover and conversion are the intentional exercise of dominion or control over a chattel which so seriously interferes with the right of another to control it that the actor may justly be required to pay the other the full value of the chattel. United States v. Arora, 860 F. Supp. 1091 (D. Md. 1994), aff'd, 56 F.3d 62 (4th Cir. 1995); Restatement (Second) of Torts § 222A(1) (1965). It is the act of dominion exerted by one person over the personal property of another.

The evolution of conversion is explained well by Judge Watts, writing for the Court of Appeals in Thompson v. UBS Financial Services, Inc., 443 Md. 47, 56-57, 115 A.3d 125, 130-31 (2015):

Conversion evolved from trover, which occurred where a defendant, a "finder of lost goods[,] . . . refused to return them" to the plaintiff, the owner of the goods. Lawson v. Commonwealth Land Titles Ins. Co., 69 Md. App. 476, 480, 518 A.2d 174, 175-76 (1986). Originally, because a plaintiff's intangible property could not be lost or found, a defendant could convert only a plaintiff's tangible personal property, see id. at 480, 518 A.2d at 176; now, however, a defendant can convert a plaintiff's intangible property under certain circumstances. See Jasen, 354 Md. at 560, 731 A.2d at 963 ("[C]ertain intangible property interests may now be recovered through a conversion claim."). Specifically, a defendant converts a plaintiff's intangible property where the defendant converts a document that embodies the plaintiff's right to the plaintiff's intangible property. See id. at 562, 731 A.2d at 965 ("[C]onversion generally may extend to the type of intangible property rights that are merged or incorporated into a transferable document."). For example, such a document could

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