Law School Case Brief
Goodrich v. Malowney - 157 So. 2d 829 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1963)
The purpose of proving a demand for property by a plaintiff and a refusal by a defendant to return it in an action for conversion is to show the conversion. The generally accepted rule is that demand and refusal are unnecessary where the act complained of amounts to a conversion regardless of whether a demand is made.
Plaintiff George R. Malowney brought an action against defendants Harold S. Goodrich, Forrest O. Hobbs, and Don M. Six, individually and as trustees, to recover damages for the conversion of 233 shares of stock in Hallmark Apartments, Inc., a company with which all were associated. At the close of evidence, the trial court directed a verdict to Malowney on the issue of liability and left for the jury questions as to the amount of compensatory and punitive damages. The jury awarded both. Defendants appealed.
Did the trial court err in finding that the evidence established the elements of conversion?
The court affirmed all action by the trial court, finding sufficient evidence to support the trial court's decision to direct a verdict on the issue of conversion. The court found that defendants' secret conveyance to themselves, as trustees, corporate assets without notice, meeting, or record of their proceedings; defendants taking Malowney’s stock through execution of a mortgage upon corporate property to pay a corporate and personal loan incurred by a third party without a meeting, notice, or record; and defendants holding a stockholders' meeting without notice and defendants' unauthorized employment of Malowney’s shares of stock without his knowledge through voting it to his injury, all satisfied the elements of conversion and warranted compensatory and punitive damages.
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