In Mueller v. TL90108, LLC (2020 WI 7), the Wisconsin Supreme Court unanimously determined that plaintiffs may file a wrongful detention claim against a possessor of previously converted property. The statute of repose for wrongful detention begins when the new possessor takes control of the vehicle, not necessarily when a demand for return of the property is made.
In 2017, the owners of a valuable classic car that was stolen in 2001 filed this complaint to recover the car against TL90108, which had bought the stolen car. TL argued that the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the six-year statute of repose under Wis. Stat. §§ 893.35 and 893.51, which TL said began in 2001, when the car was first stolen.
The Supreme Court found that the plaintiffs’ claims were not barred because the cause of action took place not when the vehicle was stolen but when TL obtained possession of the vehicle in 2015. According to the court, the statute of repose in §§ 893.35 and 893.51 can begin again when the current possessor wrongfully detains property that had been wrongfully taken beyond the statute of repose.