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A legal action to recover the possession of items of Personal Property.
Replevin is one of the oldest Forms of Action known to Common Law, first appearing about the beginning of the thirteenth century. It was a legal procedure for claiming the right to have personal property returned from the possession of one who had less right to hold it than the plaintiff. Originally the action may have been available only for the recovery of goods that were illegally held past the time the defendant had the right to their possession, but soon the right was extended to cover every situation, whether the defendant wrongfully took or just withheld another's property. As time passed, if the goods themselves could not be recovered, the courts sometimes gave judgment for an amount of money representing the value of the goods. Generally, however, replevin aimed at restoring the property itself to the person entitled to possess it. The defendant could not claim as an excuse that the property belonged to someone not involved in the lawsuit because the only issue before the court was rightful possession, not title. For example, an executor of an estate could seek replevy of racehorses boarded by the decedent if the owner of the stable refused to release them. It would be no defense that the executor was not the owner of the horses.
Replevin differed from the actions of Trespass and Trover in that it sought recovery of the specific items of property in dispute rather than monetary damages. Unlike trover, the plaintiff was not bound to prove that the defendant had converted the goods to his or her own use, only that the defendant wrongfully refused to give them up. Unlike trespass, the defendant in an action to replevy goods was not claiming that he or she owned the property, only that he or she was entitled to hold on to it rather than give it to the plaintiff. The action of Detinue was available to recover property that the defendant acquired lawfully and then unlawfully refused to return, such as in an ordinary Bailment situation.
Like other forms of action, replevin was wrapped up in technicalities that made it unwieldy for many plaintiffs. Modern statutes have replaced the old forms with more efficient laws of Civil Procedure; in most states, these include a particular statute regulating the recovery of personal property wrongfully withheld. These procedures generally incorporate elements of the common-law actions of detinue and replevin. The plaintiff usually initiates proceedings by serving papers showing why he or she claims the property and by posting a bond equal to double the value of the property. Then the sheriff seizes the property and, after a short period, delivers it to the plaintiff to hold until a hearing can be had on the claim. Most statutes allow the defendant to regain the property before the hearing by posting a bond of his or her own and filing an Affidavit stating that he or she is entitled to possession of the property. In some states, it is possible to punish a defendant who secretes, destroys, or disposes of the property by citing him or her for Contempt of court. An uncooperative defendant or the losing party can be ordered to pay monetary damages to the other party. The bond posted by either party is a source of money to pay any costs or damages assessed against that party.
n. under Common Law, the right to bring a lawsuit for recovery of goods improperly taken by another. In almost all states the term replevin in no longer used, since the states have adopted "one cause of action" for all civil wrongs.
replevinthe remedy by which a person recovered goods if the goods were seized by distress. It was extended to cover wrongful detention generally. See now the County Courts Act 1984 and the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977.
REPLEVIN, remedies. The name of an action for the recovery of goods and
2. It will be proper to consider, 1. For what property this action will lie. 2. What interest the plaintiff must have in the same. 3. For what injury. 4. The pleadings. 5. The judgment.
3.-1. To support replevin, the property affected must be a personal chattel, and not an injury to the freehold, or to any matter which is annexed to it; 4 T. R. 504; nor for anything which has been turned into a chattel by having been separated from it by the defendant, and carried away at one and the same time; 2 Watts, R. 126; 3 S. & R. 509 6 S. & R. 4761; 10 S. & R. 114; 6 Greenl. R. 427; nor for writings which concern the realty. 1 Brownl. 168.
4. The chattel also must possess indicia or ear-marks, by which it may be distinguished from all others of the same description; otherwise the plaintiff would be demanding of the law what it has not in its power to bestow; replevin for loose money cannot, therefore, be maintained; but it may be supported for money tied up in a bag, and taken in that state from the plaintiff. 2 Mod. R. 61. Vide 1 Dall. 157; 6 Binn. 2; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 562; 2 P. A. Browne's R. 160; Addis. R. 134; 10 Serg. & Rawle, 114; 4 Dall. Appx. i.; 2 Watt's R. 126; 2 Rawle's R. 423.
5.-2. The plaintiff, at the time of the caption, must have been possessed, or, which amounts to the same thing, have had an absolute property in and be entitled to the possession of the chattel, or it could not have been taken from him. He must, in other words, have had a general property, or a special property, as the bailee of the goods. His right to the possession must also be continued down to the time of judgment pronounced, otherwise he has no claim to the restoration of the property. Co. Litt. 145, b. It has however, been doubted whether on a more naked tailment for safe keeping, the bailee can maintain replevin. 1 John. R. 380; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 20.
6.-3. This action lies to recover any goods which have been illegally taken. 7 John R. 140; 5 Mass. R. 283; 14 John. R. 87; 1 Dall. R. 157; 6 Binn. R. 2; 3 Serg. & Rawle, 562; Addis. R. 134; 1 Mason, 319; 2 Fairf. 28. The primary object of this action, is to recover back the chattel itself, and damages for taking and detaining it are consequent on the recovery. 1 W. & S. 513; 20 Wend. 172; 3 Shepl. 20. When the properly has been restored this action cannot, therefore, be maintained. But the chattel is considered as detained, notwithstanding the defendant may have destroyed it before the suit was commenced; for he cannot take advantage of his own wrong.
7.-4. This being a local action, the declaration requires certainty in the description of the place where the distress was taken. 2 Chit: Pl. 411, 412; 10 John. R. 53. But it has been held in Pennsylvania, that the declaration is sufficient, if the taking is laid to be in the county. 1 P. A. Browne's Rep. 60. The strictness which formerly prevailed on this subject, has been relaxed. 2 Saund. 74, b. When the distress has been taken for rent, the defendant usually avows or makes cognizance, in order to obtain a return of the goods to which avowry or cognizance the plaintiff pleads in bar, or the defendant may, in proper cases, plead non cepit, cepit in alio loco, guilty. 1 Chit. Pl. 490, 491.
8.-5. As to the judgment, Vide article Judgment in Replevin. Vide, generally, Bac. Ab. h.t.; 1 Saund. 347, n. 1; 2 Sell. Pr. 153; Doct. Pl. 414; Com. Dig. h.t.; Dane's Ab. h.t.; Petersd. Ab. h.t.; 18 Vin. Ab. 576; Yelv. 146, a; 1 Chit., Pl. 157; Ham. N. P. ch. 3, p. 372 to 498; Amer. Dig. h.t.; Harr. Dig. h.t.; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t. As to the evidence required in replevin, see Roscoe's Civ. Ev. 353. Vide, also, article Detinuit.