Legal Definition of ''Constructive Trust''

In Univ. Hospitals of Cleveland, Inc. v. Lynch, 96 Ohio St.3d 118, 2002 Ohio 3748, 772 N.E.2d 105, the Ohio Supreme Court set forth the definition of "constructive trust" as follows: "A trust by operation of law which arises contrary to intention and in invitum, against one who, by fraud, actual or constructive, by duress or abuse of confidence, by commission of wrong, or by any form of unconscionable conduct, artifice, concealment, or questionable means, or who in any way against equity and good conscience, either has obtained or holds the legal right to property which he ought not, in equity and good conscience, hold and enjoy. It is raised by equity to satisfy the demands of justice." Id. at P59, citing Ferguson v. Owens (1984), 9 Ohio St.3d 223, 225, 9 Ohio B. 565, 459 N.E.2d 1293, quoting 76 American Jurisprudence 2d (1975), 446, Trusts, Section 221." The imposition of a constructive trust is usually associated with the acquisition of property by fraud. Id. at P60. It is imposed "'not because of the intention of the parties but because the person holding the title to property would profit by a wrong, or would be unjustly enriched if he were permitted to keep the property.'" Id., quoting Restatement of the Law, Restitution, Section 160, Comment b. A party asserting the existence of a constructive trust must prove its existence by clear and convincing evidence. Id. at paragraph three of the syllabus. Clear and convincing evidence is sufficient to establish "in the mind of the trier of facts a firm belief or conviction as to the allegations sought to be established." Cross v. Ledford (1954), 161 Ohio St. 469, 477, 120 N.E.2d 118.