Michigan’s statutory conversion statute (MCLA 600.2919a) used to confine its enhanced remedy to those who were wrongfully in receipt of converted assets. However, as it didn’t make sense to treat the person receiving the assets more harshly than the converter, the Michigan Legislature expanded the statute in 2005 to also charge the converter with treble damages and attorney fees.
Since that time, I’ve seen more and more creativity used in trying to take advantage of the enhanced remedy. In my view, one of the more creative uses was set forth in the recent Michigan Court of Appeals case of Junge v Bartles and Burrell, (Docket No. 285035, released October 20, 2009). There, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants had converted his membership interest in a limited liability company by opening an identical competing company. The Court of Appeals impliedly accepted the theory based on the fact that a person’s membership interest in a LLC is personal property.
I previously raised the possibility of using MCLA 600.2919a in conjunction with the Builders Trust Fund Act (See 06/20/2009 blog post). I know that at least once Court has subsequently accepted this theory to provide the enhanced remedy to a BTFA claim.