You Must Have Interest in the Property You Are Suing Over

We recently had a matter where our client was sued for conversion for allegedly selling several vehicles the Plaintiff owned.

The Plaintiff alleges that due to our client selling those vehicles, they suffered damages.

It’s important to note that these vehicles were abandoned on our client’s property and proper notices were provided prior to the disposal (not sold) of these vehicles and the Plaintiff sued almost two years after the vehicles were disposed of.

The best part of this action however, was that the Plaintiff never owned the vehicles they were claiming damages for!

During the Settlement Conference, the Plaintiff’s lawyer made the claim that a party’s name does not need to be on the title of a vehicle to be the owner.  This comment left both the Deputy Judge and I quite baffled.

Various documents were provided to “prove” the Plaintiff owned the vehicles, except for the ownership which would actually confirm who the owners of those vehicles were. 

We obtained Vehicle History Reports on these vehicles which shows the history of ownership, which established that the Plaintiff never owned those vehicles.  Despite this information, the Plaintiff then went on to make fresh allegations against our client which were not plead and further baffled the Deputy Judge and me.

If you don’t plead an allegation, that allegation is not before the Court, and can not be brought up later in the proceedings…I think I wrote a blog about that…

To sue for damages to property, whether its real property, a vehicle or anything else, a party must have an interest in that property.  That interest can be confirmed by way of title or ownership to the property.

If you are unable to establish ownership, then you have no interest to that property.  As a result, you cannot suffer damages for that property and therefore you cannot sue.  Well you can, but you will most likely not be happy with the outcome.

Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal