Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Washington County 15WA-CC00178.
Honorable Troy K. Hyde
Aldridge (Aldridge) appeals pro se the trial
court's judgment dismissing his petition for failure to
state a claim against two corrections officers, Charla
Francis and Jason Crawford (Officers). We affirm.
and Procedural Background
is an offender incarcerated with the Missouri Department of
Corrections. On May 22, 2014, Aldridge was incarcerated at
Potosi Correctional Center in Potosi, Missouri, where he
alleged in the underlying case that two corrections officers
tortiously converted his personal property upon his transfer
from Eastern Reception, Diagnostic, and Correctional Center
to Potosi Correctional Center. Specifically, Aldridge alleged
that the Officers confiscated certain items previously in the
possession of Aldridge at the time of his arrival at Potosi
Correctional Center. Aldridge alleged that this confiscation
constituted tortious conversion. On September 16, 2015, the
Officers filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim for tortious conversion and, on October 19, 2015, the
trial court granted the motion. This appeal follows.
motion to dismiss for failure to state a cause of action is
solely a test of the adequacy of the plaintiff's
petition." Reynolds v. Diamond Foods & Poultry,
Inc., 79 S.W.3d 907, 909 (Mo. banc 2002). We review the
petition "in an almost academic manner, to determine if
the facts alleged meet the elements of a recognized cause of
action, or of a cause that might be adopted in that
case." Nazeri v. Mo. Valley Coll., 860 S.W.2d
303, 306 (Mo. banc 1993). In so doing, we take a
plaintiff's averments as true, liberally grant plaintiff
all reasonable inferences and will not weigh the credibility
or persuasiveness of facts alleged. Id.;
Reynolds, 79 S.W.3d at 909.
an appellate court reviews a trial court's grant of a
motion to dismiss de novo and will consider only the
grounds raised in the motion to dismiss in reviewing the
propriety of the trial court's dismissal of a petition.
Lynch v. Lynch, 260 S.W.3d 834, 836 (Mo. banc 2008).
In so doing, we will not consider matters outside the
pleadings. Brennan By and Through Brennan v. Curators of
the Univ. of Mo., 942 S.W.2d 432, 434 (Mo. App. W.D.
1997). We will consider solely whether the grounds raised in
the motion supported dismissal. City of Lake Saint Louis
v. City of O'Fallon, 324 S.W.3d 756, 759 (Mo. banc
sole point on appeal, Aldridge argues the trial court erred
and abused its discretion in dismissing his petition because
he stated sufficient facts to survive a motion to dismiss
under a number of theories of substantive law, including
tortious conversion. We disagree.
speaking, "conversion is any distinct act of dominion
wrongfully exerted over one's property, in denial of his
right or inconsistent with it." In re Estate of
Boatright, 88 S.W.3d 500, 506 (Mo. App. S.D. 2002).
"Conversion is the unauthorized assumption of the right
of ownership over the personal property of another to the
exclusion of the owner's rights." Kennedy v.
Fournie, 898 S.W.2d 672, 678 (Mo. App. W.D. 1995).
Conversion is a tort against the right of possession rather
than against the right of title. Auto Alarm Supply Corp.
v. Lou Fusz Motor Co., 986 S.W.2d 467, 468 (Mo. App.
may be established in one of three ways: "(1) by
tortious taking; (2) by any use or appropriation to the use
of the person in possession, indicating a claim of right in
opposition to the rights of the owner, or (3) by a refusal to
give up possession to the owner on demand." Estate
of Boatright, 88 S.W.3d at 506. Under any of these three
theories, the plaintiff must show he had title to, or a right
of property in, and a right to the immediate possession of
the property concerned at the alleged date of conversion.
Mertz v. Blockbuster, Inc., 32 S.W.3d 130, 133 (Mo.
App. E.D. 2000). "It is possible to infer intent to
convert from the facts and circumstances of the
situation." Mertz, 32 S.W.3d at 133.
under any theory of conversion, Aldridge must show he had
title to, or right of property in, and right to immediate
possession of, property concerned at alleged date of the
conversion. Id. Here, Aldridge did not plead facts
sufficient to meet any element of conversion under this
Aldridge did not plead facts indicating that the taking of
any property when he arrived at Potosi Correctional Center
was unauthorized. If fact, in his petition, Aldridge alleged
that the Officers were working as property room officers, and
that when the property at issue was seized, it was pursuant
to institutional policy. Aldridge alleges no facts to
indicate that the Officers were not authorized to take the
listed items when he arrived at Potosi Correctional Center.
Second, Aldridge has not pled that he had title to or right
of property to any of the items he listed or that he had
right to immediate possession of the aforementioned items.
Other than conclusory allegations, Aldridge pled no facts to
sustain a claim that he had a right of property or right to
immediate possession of the property listed in his petition.
Id. Therefore, ...