Court upholds summary disposition in favor of victim of wrongful conversion
Security Financial Management and Sherry Katz-Crank sued Robert Nelms for conversion and fraud after Nelms pleaded guilty to improper use of cemetery trust funds. The trial judge granted the Plaintiffs summary disposition. The Defendant appealed, arguing that while he did not properly preserve the cemetery trust funds, he never lied to the Plaintiffs, and that in any event they were aware of his mis-use of the funds. On that basis, the Defendant argued that the Plaintiffs should not have been granted summary disposition in the full amount of their alleged damages.
The Court pointed to the statutory language of the pertinent act, which provided for the recovery of three times actual damages, plus costs and fees, against any person convicted of fraud, embezzlement or conversion. Given the straight-forward legislative intent of the act, the Court held that the Plaintiffs were within the class of persons entitled to protection under the act, and that Defendant's guilty plea in the criminal action eliminated any question of material fact.