The fact of conversion does not necessarily import an acquisition of property in the defendant. The conversion may consist, not only in an appropriation of the property to one's own use, but in its destruction, or in exercising dominion over it in exclusion or defiance of plaintiff's right.
Plaintiff filed suit for conversion on grounds that defendant converted his car when they refused to return his keys to him. Jury found for plaintiff and trial court denied defendant's motion for new trial. Defendant appealed. Defendant argued that there were insufficient facts alleged for conversion claim, and even if conversion occurred, it would be only for car keys and not the car. Defendant further argued that plaintiff should have contacted wife at home to have her bring another set of keys. The Court affirmed award and trial court's denial of new trial.
Is defendant liable for conversion?
Court held that the plaintiff was under no duty to take other steps to regain property and refuted defendant's argument that keys and not car had been converted. Case law supported conversion where the property was entrusted to a party and was not returned when asked for. The withholding from the plaintiff after demand of the keys to his automobile, without which he could not move it, amounted to a conversion of the automobile.