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PERSONAL PROPERTY - Choses in possession - Ownership

Thursday, March 05, 2020 @ 9:29 AM  

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Application by King for the return of personal property or for value in lieu. The parties began a relationship and the respondent moved into the applicant’s house in December 2009. The parties then bought a house as joint tenants. At some point, the applicant proposed to the respondent and provided an engagement ring. The respondent accepted. A dog joined the household as a puppy in 2015. In October 2015, the applicant was arrested and removed from the home, having been charged with domestic violence on the respondent. The parties tried to save the relationship, but the relationship ended in early 2017. In 2016, unbeknownst to the applicant, the respondent began operating an Airbnb out of the jointly owned home. Although the garage was not part of the Airbnb, the laundry room was, and the door between the garage and the laundry room did not have a lock. The applicant owned a safe which he brought with him to the parties’ property. The respondent said she had not seen it since then. The applicant said he concealed the safe under a wooden shelf in the garage. The applicant purchased the respondent’s interest in the home and indicated that the safe was no longer there. He asserted bailment. With respect to the engagement ring, the applicant took the position that the ring was given conditional on marriage and that he was entitled to have it back. The respondent took the position that it was the applicant’s fault that the marriage did not take place and she did not have to return the ring. The respondent purchased the dog and was the sole owner. However, the applicant took the position that the dog was a gift to him. The respondent denied the gift and said that the dog had always been hers. She had no intention of sharing him or letting him go.

HELD: Application allowed in part. The applicant was entitled to $900, which was half of the estimated value of a washer and dryer owned by the parties jointly. However, he failed to establish an ownership interest in a dining room set. The engagement ring was a gift conditional on marriage, which did not take place. Laches did not apply, and the applicant still owned the ring and was entitled to have it back. A bailment relationship was created when the applicant was removed from the home by the police and was precluded from returning. However, when the respondent told the applicant she wanted him to get all his personal property and that she did not want to be blamed for any damaged or missing items, the voluntary nature of her possession or control ended. Furthermore, the applicant had not established the time within which the safe went missing. His claim related to the safe and its contents was therefore dismissed. The applicant had not made out an intention by the respondent to gift the dog to him. It was not established that the dog was delivered from the respondent’s possession to the applicant. The respondent owned the dog.

King v. Mann, [2020] O.J. No. 87, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, T. Minnema J., January 7, 2020. Digest No. TLD-March22020009