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Commercial law win after trial

Commercial law win after trial. A successful business owner was unlawfully sued by a third party business over a contract dispute. The other side claimed that the business owner was taking their property unlawfully which is the civil action of conversion and trespass against chattels. The client hired lawyers Thomas D. Kenny and Eileen T. Burns, of Kenny, Burns & McGill to defend them in this action. The Plaintiff claimed that the client owed thousands in damages for this unlawful taking. The lawyers at KBM fought back and defended their client at trial this day in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Commercial law win after trial.

Attorney Kenny and Attorney Burns argued that the only damage that may have occurred was the value of the property at the time of conversion. To persuade the Honorable Court, KBM argued a famous case…Excerpt from the case argued below.

Bank of Landisburg v. Burruss

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 25, 1986, Submitted ; February 24, 1987, Filed

No. 00829 HARRISBURG, 1985


362 Pa. Super. 317 *; 524 A.2d 896 **; 1987 Pa. Super. LEXIS 7205 ***; 8 Employee Benefits Cas. (BNA) 1867; 3 U.C.C. Rep. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 919

Judges: Wieand, Beck and Watkins, JJ. 

Opinion by: BECK


 [***4]   [*321]  Pennsylvania’s appellate courts have not previously considered whether a broker of livestock may be held liable to a secured party for conversion. See United States v. Sommerville, 324 F.2d 712, 722 (3rd Cir.1963) (Steel, J., concurring), cert. denied 376 U.S. 909, 84 S.Ct. 663, 11 L.Ed.2d 608 (1964). Yet, in other jurisdictions, the clear weight of authority supports the view that a broker converts cattle when he sells them without the secured party’s permission.  See United States v. Matthews, 244 F.2d 626 (9th Cir., 1957); Annotation, Personal Liability of Auctioneer to Owner or Mortgagee for Conversion, 96 A.L.R.2d 208 (1964). This position has been adopted by federal courts applying Pennsylvania law.  United States v. Chesley’s Sales, Inc., 523 F.Supp. 528 (W.D.Pa.1981); United States v. Sommervile, 324 F.2d at 718-725 (Steel, J., concurring).  Similarly, we find that appellees have a cause of action for conversion. Commercial law win after trial.

HN2[] Conversion is defined as “the deprivation of another’s right of property in, or use or possession of, a chattel, or other interference therewith, without the owner’s consent and without lawful justification.” Stevenson v. Economy  [***5]   Bank of Ambridge, 413 Pa. 442, 451, 197 A.2d 721, 726 (1964). When such an act occurs, the plaintiff may bring suit if he had an immediate right to possession of the  [*322]  chattel at the time it was converted.  Potts Run Coal Co. v. Benjamin Coal Co., 285 Pa.Super. 128, 135, 426 A.2d 1175, 1178 (1981).

 [**899]  The security agreements between Albright and the Burrusses entitled Albright to “retake immediate possession” of the cattle if they were sold without his prior consent.  By auctioning the cattle, Shady Lane intentionally — although perhaps unknowingly — interfered with Albright’s use and possession of a chattel in which he had a property interest.  We are therefore satisfied that a conversion took place.

Counsel for appellants contends that there can be no conversion unless the defendant has exercised a substantial degree of dominion or control over the property of another.  Yet, counsel concedes that Shady Lane was in possession of the cattle for approximately four days, that Shady Lane had the cattle transported from county to county, and that Shady Lane had the cattle sold.  Shady Lane clearly had a sufficient degree of control to be held accountable.  In [***6]  Lindsley v. First National Bank of Philadelphia, 325 Pa. 393, 190 A. 876 (1937), the Court found that a collecting bank which


Appellants contend that the trial court erred by awarding damages of $ 24,170.  HN7[] The measure of damages for conversion is the market value of the converted property at the time and place of conversion. Northcraft v. Edward C. Michener Associates, 319 Pa.Super. 432, 466 A.2d 620 (1983). This was the $ 24,170 which the cattle brought in at auction.

Judgment affirmed. Commercial law win after trial.

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