At Antonoplos & Associates, our District of Columbia high-value personal property litigation lawyers recognize the importance of high-value personal property. Furthermore, our attorneys have over 20 years of experience working with clients to quickly enforce your rights so that you can protect your personal property.

What is Personal Property

There are two types of property—real property and personal property. Real property refers to land or real estate. On the other hand, personal property is any property other than real estate and is distinguished from real property because it is movable. Examples of high-value personal property include luxury cars, yachts, cranes, mechanical and industrial equipment, aircraft, animals, and specialty collector watches, wines, or handbags. While these are common examples of financially and emotionally valuable property, certain businesses may have different definitions of personal property because certain items may be tailored to fit their specific business needs.

How Do Disputes Arise

Because of the many different types of personal property, disputes may arise in many ways. However, there are different legal obligations depending on if the piece of property was abandoned, lost, stolen, hidden, or found.

Theft or Damage

One of the most common causes of litigation regarding personal property is when a high-value object has been stolen or damaged. Additionally, someone may be falsely accused of stealing or damaging personal property and they need to have their interests defended.

Gifts and Loans

Another common cause of disputes is when one party believes that someone gave them personal property as a gift. However, the owner of the property was merely lending the person the object with the intention of getting it back.

Sales

The sale of personal property can also involve the failure to make necessary payments, disputes regarding what the agreed value of the property is, or disputes regarding the duration of the possession in cases of leases, pledges, or mortgages. No matter which issue you encounter, the root cause of the issue is that the contract relating to the transaction was breached by one or both parties. Furthermore, certain industries have customs that only those with experience in the industry would be able to comprehend. In these cases, this characteristic also affects the influence of legal disputes.

Finders and Possessory Claims

When dealing with personal property, one finding high-value property will not automatically be considered the owner of the property. When dealing with property that was found, there are a few things that you must consider. These considerations include whether one is the true owner, finder, or occupier of the personal property, the parties intentions in relation to the personal property, whether the finder was trespassing, whether the finder was in an employer-employee relationship, and whether the personal property is attached to property, and whether the finder fulfilled various legal duties.

Capacity & Undue Influence

When transferring personal property, it must be done so willingly, voluntarily, and between entities that have the capacity to understand the actions that they are taking. Capacity is dynamic and may be slightly different for individuals in different situations. Furthermore, just because someone has capacity currently, does not mean they always had capacity. Undue influence commonly arises when there is a significant power imbalance in a relationship. Additionally, one of the individuals is in a particularly vulnerable state. Vulnerable states may include weakness, depression, or overly susceptible to influence. Finally, instances of coercion, or where one party was purposefully misleading the other party.

If one of these issues occurs, you must consider whether one or both parties received independent legal advice. Additionally, if either parties decision was made spontaneously or if the parties had time to consider the deal. Finally, if the decision to go through with the transaction was made independently or jointly.

Remedies

In legal disputes involving personal property, monetary compensation is typically the first remedy that the negatively affected party seeks. Additionally, monetary compensation will also be awarded against an individual that breaks or otherwise wrongly interferes with the value of the property.

Another common remedy is for the courts to order the sale of the high-value property in question. The reason for this remedy is that this will prevent an individual from using, selling, or destroying the personal property. Hiring a District of Columbia high-value personal property litigation attorney is vital to achieving any of these remedies.