Wisconsin Court of Appeals
Torts — conversion
Where an employee of a helicopter owner gave unauthorized permission to a pilot to take the helicopter out for a prohibited activity, and damage resulted, the employee is liable for conversion.
“The trial court’s conclusion that the facts of the case constituted conversion is supported by the examples to Section 228. 4. A rents an automobile to B to drive to X City and return. In violation of the agreement, B drives to Y City, ten miles beyond X City. This is not a conversion. … 6. The same facts…, except that while the automobile is in Y City it is seriously damaged in a collision, with or without negligence on the part of B. This is a conversion. Section 228 at 446. These examples illustrate that whether an unauthorized exercise of dominion constitutes conversion depends on the severity of interference with the owner’s right to control. RESTATEMENT (SECOND) TORTS §222A cmt. d. at 433 (1965) (‘The question is nearly always one of degree, and no fixed line can be drawn.’) Here, Coolbaugh knew that Orlos was taking the helicopter to an event that was prohibited by Parrish’s policy barring commercial events. Yet Coolbaugh gave Orlos permission to take the helicopter. When Orlos went to the prohibited event and crashed the helicopter, it was a conversion, whether or not Coolbaugh or Orlos was negligent with regard to the accident.”
Recommended for publication in the official reports.
Dist. II, Kenosha County, Wilk, J., Neubauer, J.
Attorneys: For Appellant: Schroeder, Scott L., Janesville; For Respondent: DuMez, Robert I., Kenosha; Dunn, Tony M., Kenosha