South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Conversion of Property May Also Allow Breach of Contract Action
Description Appeals court held that when a vehicle customization shop destroyed a vehicle, it was liable for breach of contract for failing to perform the work it was paid to perform and was liable for the tort of conversion for destroying the property.
Topic Torts
Key Words Conversion; Breach of Contract; Damages
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts In December 1997, Mackendrick met with St. Amant, president of 4WD Parts Center, and requested customization of his 1972 Chevy four-wheel drive “collector” pickup. After discussions, Mackendrick paid $12,000 and was told the work would be finished in three or four months. After various disputes, Mackendrick sued in April 2000. A year later he was given his truck back; which was a total loss. St. Amant claimed that they agreed to $22,000 and that Mackendrick refused to pay the additional $10,000, so he had quit working on the truck. The trial court awarded Mackendrick $12,000 for breach of contract, $14,000 for the loss of the vehicle, and $6,000 in attorney fees. St. Amant appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. The damages were proper. There was $12,000 for breach of contract for the work not performed and $14,000 for conversion of the vehicle. There was good evidence to support the value of the vehicle before it was left nearly worthless. A single action may be both a breach of contract and a tort. The award of attorney fees is appropriate because defendant acted in bad faith.

Citation 4WD Parts Center, Inc. v. Mackendrick, 579 S.E.2d 772 (Ct. App., Ga., 2003)

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