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A complaint states a cause of action for conversion if it alleges ownership and possession of the property converted, the forcible and unlawful taking thereof by the defendants, and the value of said property.
The creditor held a judgment against two men. To enforce his judgment, the creditor obtained a writ of execution against the assets of a partnership that the men had an interest in. The creditor purchased all of the assets at sheriff's sale. On the day of the sale, the men transferred their interests in the partnership to a third party who transferred them to the debtor corporation. The intent of the transaction was to defraud the creditor. The two men surreptitiously removed all of the assets from the creditor's possession. The creditor filed suit. The debtor corporation filed a motion to exclude the creditor's evidence. The trial court granted the motion. The creditor appealed.
Did the complaint state a cause of action for conversion and conspiracy to defraud creditors?
The court reversed. In MacDonald v. Kingsley (1957), 149 Cal.App.2d 376 [308 P.2d 46], it was held that a complaint stated a cause of action for conversion which alleged (1) ownership and possession of the property converted, (2) the forcible and unlawful taking thereof by the defendants, and (3) the value of said property. Here, the court held that the creditor's in propria persona complaint stated causes of action for conversion and conspiracy to defraud creditors. He should have been permitted to introduce evidence, and the trial court's ruling excluding evidence was erroneous, so its judgment based on this error was reversed. On remand, the court instructed that the creditor, after proper proof of his allegations, should be allowed to recover damages even though he could not prove ownership of the assets.