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What is the statute of limitations for conversion in CA?

San Clemente, CA |

Is it measured from the date of conversion or the date the victim found out about it? If I filed a Complaint and did not include conversion, can I amend the Complaint 2 weeks before trial? How do I ask the judge to le me do that?

Attorney Answers 1


See below for the conversion statute of limitations. It is generally three years from the date of the actual conversion, but there is a delayed discovery rule.

You can ask to amend your complaint at any time, even during the trial. You need to file a motion for leave to amend.

Statute of Limitations: three year statute of limitations for conversion of tangible
personal property. [Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 338(c) (statute of limitation is three years for
“[a]n action for taking, detaining, or injuring any goods or chattels, including actions for
the specific recovery of personal property”); Strasberg v. Odyssey Group, Inc. (1996) 51
Cal.App.4th 906, 915 (“Code of Civil Procedure section 338, subdivision (c) provides for
a three-year statute of limitations for actions alleging conversion.”)
a. Measured from date of alleged conversion: the three year period begins to run
the day the wrongful taking occurred. [See, e.g., Bennett v. Hibernia Bank (1956)
47 Cal. 2d 540, 561 (“the statute of limitations applying in conversion actions
(Code Civ. Proc., § 388, subd. 3 [now subdivision (c)]) begins to run from the
date of the conversion even though the injured person is ignorant of his rights”);
Coy v. E.F. Hutton & Co. (1941) 44 Cal. App. 2d 386, 390 (plaintiff’s cause of
action accrued the day of the alleged conversion of his stock and suit against
stockbroker filed more than four years later was time-barred); First National Bank
v. Thompson (1943) 60 Cal. App. 2d 79 (citing Coy v. E.F. Hutton & Co., 44 Cal.
App. 2d at 390) (suit to recover shovel from person who purchased it from one
who had not satisfied the terms of his conditional sales contract barred because
filed more than three years after conversion)]
b. Delayed discovery rule: in cases where the facts giving rise to the cause of action
have been fraudulently concealed, the statute of limitations begins to run on the
date the plaintiff discovers the conversion. [Bartlett v. Pacific Nat. Bank (1933)
110 Cal. App. 2d 683, 694 (“Th[e] rule [that a conversion cause of action accrues
when the conversion occurs] is not absolute; for example, where there has been a
fraudulent concealment of the facts the statute of limitations does not commence
to run until the aggrieved party discovers or ought to have discovered the
existence of the cause of action for conversion.”); see Strasberg v. Odyssey
Group, Inc. (1996) 51 Cal.App.4th 906, 916-917; see also Rose v. Dunk-Harbison
Co., 7 Cal.App.2d 502, 505]
c. Cf: Two year statutory period for conversion of intangible personal
property: the two year statute of limitations of Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 339(1)
governs actions based upon an alleged wrong to intangible property. [Cal. Code
Civ. Proc. § 339(1) (“Within two years: 1. An action upon a contract, obligation
or liability not founded upon an instrument of writing[.]”); Italiani v. Metro
Golden Mayer Corp., (1941) 45 Cal. App. 2d 464, 466-67 (two year statute of
limitations applies to an “intellectual production” described as an “intangible
incorporeal right”); Barton v. New United Motor Mfg., Inc. (1996) 43 Cal. App.
4th 1200, 1206-1210 (recognizing two year statute of limitations for intangible

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