The Fourth Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined defendants’ motion for summary judgment dismissing the conversion cause of action should not have been granted. Defendants’ own submissions demonstrated plaintiff’s ownership of the property, his removal of some of the property, and his request for more time to remove the rest. The property was in a house where plaintiff used to live, but which was purchased by the defendants. Defendants disposed of the remaining property, arguing plaintiff had abandoned it. Plaintiff then sued for conversion:
If the property can be deemed abandoned, then plaintiff’s possessory interest was forfeited and defendants’ actions were authorized, i.e., there can be no cause of action for conversion … . “The abandonment of property is the relinquishing of all title, possession or claim to or of it—a virtual intentional throwing away of it. It is not presumed. Proof supporting it must be direct or affirmative or reasonably beget the exclusive inference of the throwing away” … . …
… [D]efendants’ … own submissions establish that plaintiff was the owner of the personal property left on the premises, that he attempted to remove some of the property during the 30-day period, and that he made requests for additional time to retrieve his property…. . Cretaro v Huntington, 2022 NY Slip Op 01935, Fourth Dept 3-18-22
Practice Point: Here defendants purchased a house formerly owned by plaintiff and gave plaintiff 30 days to remove plaintiff’s personal property from the house. Defendants’ disposed of the property, arguing that plaintiff had abandoned it. Defendants’ own submissions demonstrated plaintiff owned the property, removed some of the property and asked for time to remove more. Defendants’ own submissions, therefore, demonstrated plaintiff had not abandoned the property. Defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s conversion cause of action should not have been granted.