Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Lawrence v. Superior Court (Cal. Ct. App. - March 20, 2018)

Today's opinion decides who should possess a million-dollar car while the parties fight over whether it's stolen (probably not) or whether one of two different people legally own it.

Brandon Lawrence says he validly bought the 1947 Cisitalia from a Japanese company who owned it.  But a Japanese citizen, Kiyoshi Takihana, says that the Japanese company stole the vehicle from him in the first place (or, perhaps more accurately, failed to pay for it after he let 'em have it).

So the California Highway Patrol steps in, seizes the vehicle, and is keeping it in a secret location until the parties sort it out.

No good, says the Court of Appeal.  Lawrence has the right of possession in the meantime.  Give him the car and let the civil courts decide who actually owns it.

In the old days, any fight about a million-dollar car would likely have taken place in the Superior Court for Los Angeles County.  It's a testament to contemporary cultural and financial changes that today's opinion comes out of the Superior Court for San Mateo County.