Friday, December 6, 2013

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation v. Lubell case brief

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation v. Lubell case brief summary
569 N.E.2d 426 (1991)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Appellant purchaser sought review of an order of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court (New York) that dismissed the purchaser's statute of limitations defense, brought under N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214(3), in an action by appellee museum to recover stolen artwork.

CASE FACTS
A museum filed suit to recover a stolen painting that was currently in a purchaser's possession. The purchaser obtained the painting many years before from a reputable art gallery. The trial court dismissed the purchaser's statute of limitations defense.

DISCUSSION
  • The court affirmed. 
  • The court held that while there was a three-year statute of limitations for recovery of a chattel, N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214(3), the cause of action for replevin against the purchaser of the stolen artwork accrued when the museum made demand for return of the artwork and the purchaser refused to return it. 
  • The court held that there was no duty of reasonable diligence on the museum for purposes of the statute of limitations. 
  • The court held that it would be impossible to craft a reasonable diligence requirement that would take into account all variables. 
  • However, the court held that the museum's conduct in failing to apprise anyone of the loss of the painting could be considered in the purchaser's laches defense.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed the dismissal of appellant purchaser's statute of limitations defense in an action by appellee museum to recover stolen artwork.

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