In New Jersey, common law conversion is defined as ” ‘the exercise of any act of dominion in denial of another’s title to . . . chattels, or inconsistent with such title. ‘ ” Marsellis-Warner Corp. v. Rabens, 51 F. Supp. 2d 508, 525 (D.N.J. 1999) (quoting Mueller v. Technical Devices Corp., 8 N.J. 201, 207, 84 A.2d 620 (N.J. 1951). More loosely, conversion may be thought of as the civil remedy for theft, for unlawful taking, or for unlawful keeping.
The elements of conversion in New Jersey are: “(a) that the property and right to immediate possession thereof belong to the plaintiff; and (b) the wrongful act of interference with that right by the defendant.” Davis v. Connolly, No. 09-cv-4629 (D.N.J. Feb. 11, 2010) (quotingFirst National Bank v. North Jersey Trust Co., 18 N.J. Misc. 449, 14 A.2d 765, 767 (N.J. 1940)); see also Marsellis-Warner Corp., 51 F. Supp. 2d at 525.
Further, in New Jersey, a negotiable instrument (such as certain drafts, checks, money orders, certificates of deposit, and notes) is converted when (i) “it is taken by transfer, other than a negotiation, from a person not entitled to enforce the instrument” or (ii) “a bank makes or obtains payment with respect to the instrument for a person not entitled to enforce the instrument or receive payment.” N.J. U.C.C. § 12A:3-420(a); see N.J. U.C.C. §§ 12A:3-420(b) – 12A:3-420(c); id. § 12A:3-104 (defining ” ‘ negotiable instrument’ “).