Law School Case Brief
Songbyrd, Inc. v. Estate Grossman - 23 F. Supp. 2d 219 (N.D.N.Y. 1998)
A conversion action is governed by the three-year statute of limitations for recovery of chattel in provided in N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214(3) (1990). The statute of limitations for conversion begins to run at the time of the conversion.
Plaintiff Songbyrd brought an action for monetary damages and a declaration of rights in certain recorded music tracks. Defendant estate had physical custody of these recordings, which they licensed in 1986, and subsequently released as albums in 1987 and 1991. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 on the ground that the action is barred by the applicable statute of limitations when they filed the action in 1995.
Is the action filed by plaintiff Songbyrd barred by the statute of limitations?
The court held that where the conduct of the defendant certainly constituted a denial of both the plaintiff's right to the master recording and a total usurping of plaintiff's right to possess the master recording, the claim is properly stated as one for conversion. The time bar arose in August 1989, three years following the licensing agreement with Rounder Records. Conversion is not a continuing wrong for which every new act that might constitute conversion restarts a new limitations period. Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted.
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