2020 Georgia Code
Title 9 - Civil Practice
Chapter 3 - Limitations of Actions
Article 2 - Specific Periods of Limitation
§ 9-3-32. Accrual of Actions for Recovery of Personal Property or Loss of Timber; Damages for Conversion or Destruction

Universal Citation: GA Code § 9-3-32 (2020)

Actions for the recovery of personal property, or for damages for the conversion or destruction of the same, shall be brought within four years after the right of action accrues, and actions involving the unauthorized cutting or cutting and carrying away of timber from the property of another shall be brought within four years after the cutting or cutting and carrying away of timber.

(Ga. L. 1855-56, p. 233, § 2; Code 1933, § 3-1003; Ga. L. 2014, p. 695, § 1/HB 790.)

The 2014 amendment, effective July 1, 2014, added ", and actions involving the unauthorized cutting or cutting and carrying away of timber from the property of another shall be brought within four years after the cutting or cutting and carrying away of timber" at the end of this Code section.

Cross references.

- Tort action for third party timber harvester, § 51-11-10.

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

History of this section, see Blocker v. Boswell, 109 Ga. 230, 34 S.E. 289 (1899).

This section was omitted from Code of 1910 by mistake, and is still in force. Hicks v. Moyer, 10 Ga. App. 488, 73 S.E. 754 (1912).

Statute of limitations not tolled by federal filing.

- The running of the statute of limitations for the alleged conversion of personal property was not tolled by the filing of a previous suit in federal court to recover for the same alleged injury. Brown v. Pearson, 171 Ga. App. 576, 320 S.E.2d 570 (1984).

Application to 42 U.S.C.

§ 1983 claims. - It is not clear that, prior to the setting of a two year limitations period for all section 1983 claims under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33, the four year limitations period for conversion or destruction of personal property under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32 would have been applied to plaintiff's section 1983 claim. Williams v. City of Atlanta, 794 F.2d 624 (11th Cir. 1986).

Pretrial detainee's 42 U.S.C. § 1983 federal due process claims concerning the loss of the detainee's personal property by prison officers was dismissed upon summary judgment because the detainee could pursue the claims pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 51-10-1 as the four-year statute of limitations in O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32 had not yet run. Price v. Busbee, F. Supp. 2d (M.D. Ga. Feb. 21, 2006).

Applicability of section to trover.

- Four-year period of limitation of actions for conversion includes trover. Poss v. Hughes, 120 Ga. App. 293, 170 S.E.2d 435 (1969).

Recovery or damages for conversion of distributed property.

- When decedent's personalty was distributed by authority of law after an application for "no administration necessary" by respondents, the controlling statute of limitations for action to recover such personalty or for damages for conversion was that found in former Code 1933, § 3-1003 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32), rather than in former Code 1933, § 3-709 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-3-27). Comerford v. Hurley, 246 Ga. 501, 271 S.E.2d 782 (1980).

When chapter 13 debtors failed to schedule the debtors' claim against the defendant credit union as an asset, and failed to bring the claim within four years after the triggering event, the death of debtor wife's former husband, as required by O.C.G.A. §§ 9-3-31 and9-3-32, summary judgment on judicial estoppel and limitations grounds was proper. Kirton v. Fort Stewart Federal Credit Union (In re Carroll), Bankr. (Bankr. S.D. Ga. June 26, 2001).

Conversion of notes or checks.

- When legal title to notes was in plaintiff and possession was wrongfully obtained and withheld by defendant, the statute of limitations as to actions for personalty was applicable. O'Callaghan v. Bank of Eastman, 180 Ga. 812, 180 S.E. 847 (1935).

When legal title to notes or checks is in the plaintiff and conversion by the defendant is alleged, tort is an injury to personalty and falls within purview of this section. Talley-Corbett Box Co. v. Royals, 134 Ga. App. 769, 216 S.E.2d 358 (1975).

Conversion of corporate stock.

- When gravamen of plaintiff's complaint was conversion of corporate stock, and alleged conversion took place more than four years before action was instituted, it was not error to grant defendants' motions to dismiss for laches. Clark v. Lett & Barron, Inc., 227 Ga. 609, 182 S.E.2d 118 (1971).

Recovery of converted bank stock.

- This section applies to action to recover bank stock that has been converted. Hill v. Fourth Nat'l Bank, 156 Ga. 704, 120 S.E. 1 (1923).

Petition seeking to recover money belonging to the intestate and obtained from her by defendant administratrix and her husband, sued in their individual capacities was barred after lapse of four years from appointment of administratrix. Harrison v. Holsenbeck, 208 Ga. 410, 67 S.E.2d 311 (1951).

Person's business is "property" in the pursuit of which the person is entitled to protection from tortious interference by a third person. Since this is a property right, the plaintiff has four years in which to bring the plaintiff's action. Hill v. Crabb, 166 Ga. App. 387, 304 S.E.2d 510 (1983).

When the plaintiff's cause of action sounded in two phases, one setting forth an action for slander and the second for an interference with the plaintiff's business, the trial court erred in granting defendant summary judgment on the basis of the bar of the statute of limitation for slander (O.C.G.A. § 9-3-33) since the cause of action arose some three years prior to when suit was brought. Hill v. Crabb, 166 Ga. App. 387, 304 S.E.2d 510 (1983).

Cause of action for wrongful conversion of property interest in patent arose on the date on which the patent application was filed in the patent office, absent plaintiff's name. Palmer v. Neal, 602 F. Supp. 882 (N.D. Ga. 1984).

In action for conversion of plaintiff's property interest in a patent, when the plaintiff ended the plaintiff's association with the defendant prior to the defendant's filing the patent application without the plaintiff's name, the defendant had no duty to disclose the defendant's actions to the plaintiff, and therefore there was no basis for tolling the statute of limitations for fraud. Palmer v. Neal, 602 F. Supp. 882 (N.D. Ga. 1984).

Defendant's interference with plaintiff's business by filing liens against property on which nothing was owing with intention of coercing the plaintiff into paying the defendant money was interference with a property right, and the plaintiff had four years in which to bring action therefor. Dale v. City Plumbing & Heating Supply Co., 112 Ga. App. 723, 146 S.E.2d 349 (1965).

Failure of court clerk to transmit record to Supreme Court.

- Action to recover damages from superior court clerk for negligent failure to send record to Supreme Court within time required by law was an action to recover damages for conversion of personal property, which fell within this section, not an action for injury to the person. Singletary v. GMAC, 73 F.2d 453 (5th Cir. 1934).

Right of action to recover damages for timber cut and removed from the plaintiff's land by the defendants accrued when the timber was cut and removed, and whether the plaintiff's action was construed as one seeking damages for trespass upon realty or damages for conversion of personalty, the applicable period of limitation was four years. Harper v. Jones, 103 Ga. App. 40, 118 S.E.2d 279 (1961).

Cause of action for wrongful conversion of mining interest.

- With the exception of cases involving personal injury that develop over an extended period of time, Georgia does not apply the discovery rule and the statute of limitations begins to run when a claim of subterranean conversion accrued. Therrell v. Georgia Marble Holdings Corp., 960 F.2d 1555 (11th Cir. 1992).

When possession of property has been voluntarily surrendered for an indefinite time, demand and refusal are necessary to show conversion, and statute of limitations begins to run from date of such demand and refusal. Wood v. Garner, 156 Ga. App. 351, 274 S.E.2d 737 (1980); Kornegay v. Thompson, 157 Ga. App. 558, 278 S.E.2d 140 (1981), aff'd, 173 Ga. App. 465, 326 S.E.2d 792 (1985).

Action against burglars was barred by statute of limitation.

- Action that was filed in 1999 by two property owners against three alleged burglars to recover money which was stolen in 1993 was barred by the four-year statute of limitation of O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32 because the burglars' concealment of their identities as the perpetrators by making threats against those to whom they had admitted their guilt or by denying their involvement to others did not constitute concealment of the existence of the cause of action for purposes of tolling the statute of limitation under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-96. Stewart v. Warner, 257 Ga. App. 322, 571 S.E.2d 189 (2002).

Claim for return of loaned property.

- Executor's claim for the return of a painting that had been loaned to a school district by the decedent before the decedent's death accrued on the date that the executor of the estate was appointed, and because the cause of action was not brought within four years of that date, the action was barred by the statute of limitations. Rowland v. Clarke County Sch. Dist., 272 Ga. 471, 532 S.E.2d 91 (2000).

Statute does not begin to run in favor of bailee until the bailee denies bailment and converts bailed property to the bailee's own use. Bulloch v. Hutcheson, 49 Ga. App. 171, 174 S.E. 645 (1934).

Accrual of action for wrongful appropriation of corporate assets.

- Action against corporate officer and director for wrongful conversion of assets of insolvent corporation cannot accrue until judgment is obtained against corporation and nulla bona is returned on execution. Emhart Corp. v. McLarty, 226 Ga. 621, 176 S.E.2d 698 (1970).

Prerequisite to action against stockholder and director for wrongful appropriation of corporate assets to the stock holder's and director's own use is judgment against the corporation and return of nulla bona on the execution. Emhart Corp. v. McLarty, 226 Ga. 621, 176 S.E.2d 698 (1970).

Action for wrongful appropriation of corporate assets does not accrue until judgment against corporation and return of nulla bona has occurred, and therefore the statute of limitation does not begin to run until that time. Johnston v. Investment Sav. Co., 125 Ga. App. 267, 187 S.E.2d 533 (1972).

Accrual of action for fraudulent conveyance.

- In determining when a cause of action accrued for purposes of O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32 it was necessary to ascertain the time when the plaintiff could first have maintained the plaintiff's action to a successful result. The relevant date for determining the statute of limitations on a fraudulent conveyance claim, pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 18-2-74,18-2-75, and18-2-76, was the date that the debtor incurred the obligation to make the transfer. Kipperman v. Onex Corp., 411 Bankr. 805 (N.D. Ga. 2009).

Accrual of action for selling goods.

- When a recycler of shipping pallets retained pallets under a colorable claim of naked depository status but sold certain of the pallets, the claim of the putative owner of the pallets for conversion with regard to the sold pallets accrued when the pallets were sold rather than when the recycler obtained the pallets. CHEP USA v. Mock Pallet Co., F.3d (11th Cir. 2005)(Unpublished).

Accrual of conversion and misappropriation claims.

- District court did not err in concluding that the four-year statute of limitations on the plaintiffs' conversion and misappropriation claims, under O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32, began to run no later than December 30, 2005, and that those claims were time-barred because the plaintiffs' demand that all of the plaintiffs' share of the proceeds from the sale be distributed to the plaintiffs, rather than be credited to other debts, was refused in a December 30, 2005, letter and the defendants paid the plaintiffs less than the distribution to which the plaintiffs felt the plaintiffs were entitled. HealthPrime, Inc. v. Smith/Packett/Med/Com, LLC, F.3d (11th Cir. June 3, 2011)(Unpublished).

Certain of the plaintiff's claims for fraud, conversion, and breach of oral contract arose outside of the four-year statute of limitation, and the undisputed facts showed that the plaintiff did not exercise reasonable diligence in discovering the defendant's alleged fraud as to a certain account as the defendant was put on notice of the account when the defendant received two personal checks issued from that account, endorsed and cashed the checks, but never inquired as to the checks' source. Hot Shot Kids Inc. v. Pervis (In re Pervis), 497 Bankr. 612 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 2013).

Trial court properly granted a tobacco cooperative summary judgment on the tobacco farmers' claim for conversion because any conversion of a farmer's pro-rata share of net gains for crop years 1967 through 1973 occurred in 1975, when the tobacco cooperative set aside the undistributed net gain into its capital reserve, thus, the suit filed in 2007 was time-barred. Rigby v. Flue-Cured Tobacco Coop. Stabilization Corp., 327 Ga. App. 29, 755 S.E.2d 915 (2014).

Failure of broker to deliver stock to customer.

- When, although the plaintiff first requested the return of the plaintiff's stocks from a broker more than four years prior to filing suit, and although these requests went unheeded, the broker consistently acknowledged the plaintiff's ownership during this period by showing the stocks as the plaintiff's on periodic account statements sent to the plaintiff and by allowing the plaintiff to vote the stock and receive the dividends, clearly, the broker asserted no adverse ownership interest in the stocks but merely withheld possession as leverage to collect the plaintiff's alleged interest indebtedness, and, under these circumstances, the plaintiff's suit in trover was not barred by the statute of limitations. E.F. Hutton & Co. v. Weeks, 166 Ga. App. 443, 304 S.E.2d 420 (1983).

Trustees failed to exercise minimal degree of due diligence to discover claims.

- Dismissal of the trustees' claims as time barred was upheld because the trustees conceded that, despite signing numerous documents as trustees of the marital trust, the trustees made no attempt at all to obtain information the trustees were legally entitled to in that capacity; thus, the trustees failed to exercise even a minimal degree of due diligence to discover their claims as a matter of law. Rollins v. LOR, Inc., 345 Ga. App. 832, 815 S.E.2d 169 (2018), cert. denied, No. S18C1362, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 49 (Ga. 2019).

Abandonment may result from acts of owner or from failure to bring action for recovery of personalty within four years. Maslia v. Hall, 121 Ga. App. 740, 175 S.E.2d 48 (1970).

Recording of telephone conversations.

- Two-year statute of limitations applicable to injuries to the person rather than four-year limitation applicable to property damage is applied to cause of action for invasion of privacy arising out of recordings of telephone conversations. Jones v. Hudgins, 163 Ga. App. 793, 295 S.E.2d 119 (1982).

Application to action to set aside probate court order.

- Action by alleged illegitimate children to set aside a probate court order declaring no administration of an estate was barred by O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32 to the extent that the complaint was for the recovery of personal property. Tolbert v. Whatley, 223 Ga. App. 508, 478 S.E.2d 587 (1996).

Action for damage to a corpse.

- In an action regarding the alleged removal of eye tissue from a corpse without permission, to the extent plaintiff was suing to enforce property rights, the plaintiff's claims were subject to the limitation of O.C.G.A. § 9-3-32. Bauer v. North Fulton Med. Ctr., Inc., 241 Ga. App. 568, 527 S.E.2d 240 (1999).

Conversion claim against EMCs for patronage capital barred.

- Suits by classes of former and current members of distribution electric membership corporations (EMCs) seeking to recover millions of dollars in patronage capital from two wholesale EMCs were dismissed because the members lacked privity with the wholesale EMCs, and there was no legal duty under O.C.G.A. § 46-3-340(c) or the EMCs' bylaws requiring distribution of the patronage capital to the members. Walker v. Oglethorpe Power Corp., 341 Ga. App. 647, 802 S.E.2d 643 (2017), overruled on other grounds, Hanham v. Access Mgmt. Group L.P., 305 Ga. 414, 825 S.E.2d 217 (2019).

Cited in Smith v. Aldridge, 192 Ga. 376, 15 S.E.2d 430 (1941); Smith v. Pennington, 192 Ga. 478, 15 S.E.2d 727 (1941); Rigdon v. Barfield, 194 Ga. 77, 20 S.E.2d 587 (1942); Townsend v. Tattnall Bank, 74 Ga. App. 257, 39 S.E.2d 536 (1946); Greene v. Lam Amusement Co., 145 F. Supp. 346 (N.D. Ga. 1956); Johansson v. Towson, 177 F. Supp. 729 (M.D. Ga. 1959); Frye v. Commonwealth Inv. Co., 107 Ga. App. 739, 131 S.E.2d 569 (1963); Pope v. Ledbetter, 108 Ga. App. 869, 134 S.E.2d 873 (1964); Harrell v. Allen, 439 F.2d 1005 (5th Cir. 1971); Jackson v. Citizens Trust Bank, 133 Ga. App. 371, 211 S.E.2d 17 (1974); Union Circulation Co. v. Trust Co. Bank, 143 Ga. App. 715, 240 S.E.2d 100 (1977); Benning Constr. Co. v. Lakeshore Plaza Enters., Inc., 240 Ga. 426, 241 S.E.2d 184 (1977); Trust Co. Bank v. Union Circulation Co., 241 Ga. 343, 245 S.E.2d 297 (1978); Refrigeration Supplies, Inc. v. Bartley, 146 Ga. App. 825, 247 S.E.2d 542 (1978); Comerford v. Hurley, 154 Ga. App. 387, 268 S.E.2d 358 (1980); Skinner v. DeKalb Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 246 Ga. 561, 272 S.E.2d 260 (1980); Duckworth v. Collier, 164 Ga. App. 139, 296 S.E.2d 640 (1982); Donalson v. Coca-Cola Co., 164 Ga. App. 712, 298 S.E.2d 25 (1982); Dunn v. Towle, 170 Ga. App. 487, 317 S.E.2d 266 (1984); Tilley v. Page, 181 Ga. App. 98, 351 S.E.2d 464 (1986); American Legion Dep't v. Thomas S. Teabeaut Post 41, 185 Ga. App. 711, 365 S.E.2d 532 (1988); Mikart, Inc. v. Marquez, 211 Ga. App. 209, 438 S.E.2d 633 (1994); Logan v. Tucker, 224 Ga. App. 404, 480 S.E.2d 860 (1997); League v. United States Postamatic, Inc., 235 Ga. App. 171, 508 S.E.2d 210 (1998); Anglin v. Harris, 244 Ga. App. 140, 534 S.E.2d 874 (2000); Savage v. Roberson, 244 Ga. App. 280, 534 S.E.2d 925 (2000); Chambers v. Green, 245 Ga. App. 814, 539 S.E.2d 181 (2000); Odum v. Montgomery, 249 Ga. App. 211, 547 S.E.2d 770 (2001); Broadfoot v. Hunerwadel (In re Dulock), 282 Bankr. 54 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 2002).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 51 Am. Jur. 2d, Limitation of Actions, § 167.

C.J.S.

- 54 C.J.S., Limitations of Actions, §§ 71, 72, 258.

ALR.

- Wrongful attachment or garnishment of debt as conversion, 40 A.L.R. 594.

Rights and remedies in respect of legacy charged upon land devised, 116 A.L.R. 7; 134 A.L.R. 361.

When statute of limitations commences to run against action to recover, or for conversion of, property stolen or otherwise wrongfully taken, 136 A.L.R. 658.

Statute of limitations governing damage action against warehouseman for loss of or damage to stored goods, 23 A.L.R.2d 1466.

Nature of property or rights other than tangible chattels which may be subject of conversion, 44 A.L.R.2d 927.

When statute of limitations starts to run against bailor's action for recovery, or for damages for conversion or detention, of property deposited for an indefinite time, 57 A.L.R.2d 1044.

What statute of limitations applies to an action, based on duress, to recover money or property, 77 A.L.R.2d 821.

When statute of limitations commences to run against claim for contribution or indemnity based on tort, 57 A.L.R.3d 867.

What statute of limitations applies to action for contribution against joint tort-feasor, 57 A.L.R.3d 927.

Tort claim against which period of statute of limitations has run as subject of setoff, counterclaim, cross bill, or cross action in tort action arising out of same accident or incident, 72 A.L.R.3d 1065.

When does statute of limitations begin to run against action for wrongful appropriation of literary property or idea, 79 A.L.R.3d 820.

Accrual of claims for continuing trespass or continuing nuisance for purposes of statutory limitations, 14 A.L.R.7th 8.

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