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Tort/Negligence – Conversion – Bona fide Purchaser for Value – Rare Coins

Tort/Negligence – Conversion – Bona fide Purchaser for Value – Rare Coins

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King v. Brooks. (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-07-1226, 12 pp.) (Cheri Beasley, J.) Appealed from Buncombe County Superior Court. (James U. Downs, J.) N.C. App.

Holding: Even if a defendant’s status as a bona fide purchaser for value is a valid defense to a claim of conversion, when requesting a non-pattern jury instruction, the defense must be stated properly. The trial court correctly denied defendant’s jury charge request because his requested instruction required the jury to make an irrelevant finding, i.e., that the defendant purchased currency.

We affirm the jury’s verdict finding defendant Wright liable for conversion.

There is authority in North Carolina indicating that the status of a bona fide purchaser for value is a defense to the tort of conversion. “It is well established that when a man’s property has been obtained from him by actionable fraud or covin, the owner can follow and recover it from the wrongdoer as long as he can identify or trace it; and the right attaches, not only as to the wrongdoer himself, but to any one to whom the property has been transferred otherwise than in good faith and for valuable consideration.” Singer Manufacturing Co. v. Summers, 143 N.C. 102, 55 S.E. 522 (1906).

In this case, however, defendant Wright did not establish the affirmative defense of a bona fide purchaser for value as a matter of law, and his attorney misstated the law in presenting non-pattern instructions to the jury.

Finally, Wright’s motion for a new trial based on a compromise verdict from the jury was properly denied because the jury did not ignore the law in reaching its verdict. Rather, it allowed Wright to collect part of the recovery from his fellow defendants.


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