Does Demand for Return of Property by the Bank Trigger the Limitations Period ?
In Coy v. E.F. Hutton & Co. (1941) 44 Cal.App.2d 386, the brokerage house had sold the stock that was the subject of the conversion cause of action.
The court held that the "conversion is complete at the time of the wrongful disposal of the property, and the statute starts to run from that time." (Coy, supra, 44 Cal.App.2d at p. 390.)
Similarly, in First National Bk. v. Thompson (1943) 60 Cal.App.2d 79, the bank's gas shovel was sold by the person who was buying it on time and who had it in his possession, but who had no right to sell it.
The bank was unable to recover it from the innocent buyers because the sale had taken place over three years before the bank sued to recover the shovel. (Thompson, supra, 60 Cal.App.2d at pp. 82-83.)
In Metzler v. Foster Holding Co. (1936) 5 Cal.2d 278, the converted property was hay and stock, all of which had been consumed or sold over three years before suit was filed. (Metzler, supra, 5 Cal.2d at p. 282.)
"The rule is that where there has been an actual conversion, a demand upon the defendant before the institution of the action of trover is not necessary. For, since demand and refusal do not of themselves constitute conversion but are only evidence from which conversion in certain cases may be found , the conversion may be established by proof of other acts on the part of the defendant, such, for instance, as selling and delivering the property to some third person in defiance of the rights of the true owner." (Mier v. Southern California Ice Co. (1922) 56 Cal.App. 512, 518.)