In Taffaro v. Taffaro, the plaintiff sued his half-sister claiming that she removed decorations and flowers he had placed near their mother’s gravestone.

Plaintiff had placed various items at the grave, including a Christmas wreath, a Halloween ghost, and cards, which were “frequently directed towards defendant” and referencing the parties’ previous dispute over their mother’s estate.

After various counts were dismissed based upon the statute of limitations, the remaining count, seeking damages for conversion, was tried without a jury. At the conclusion of plaintiff’s case-in-chief, plaintiff’s complaint was dismissed. The trial judge concluded that plaintiff had abandoned the property in issue, and that he had failed to prove that the defendant had taken them.

The Appellate Division affirmed. It agreed that plaintiff had failed to prove conversion because he had abandoned the items by leaving them at the gravesite. It noted that the cards and decorative items were “ephemeral” in nature, having been made of paper and left outside. It also noted that the items were placed at the grave with the intention of harassing the defendant, rather than to honor their mother’s memory, and that such items were routinely removed by cemetery groundskeepers. Finally, the court found that the trial had judge correctly concluded that there was no evidence presented that the defendant had actually taken the items in issue.

A copy of Taffaro v. Taffaro can be found here. Taffaro v. Taffaro

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