Can a secured party who, by force, takes possession of collateral in a breach of the peace, become responsible in damages to the defaulting owner?

California, United States of America

The following excerpt is from Hartford Financial Corp. v. Burns, 158 Cal.Rptr. 169, 96 Cal.App.3d 591 (Cal. App. 1979):

To support this position, defendants also rely upon Henderson v. Security Nat. Bank (1977) 72 Cal.App.3d 764, 140 Cal.Rptr. 388. In Henderson, the court held that a secured party who, by means of force, took possession of a motor vehicle upon default of the buyer, committed the tort of conversion and thus became responsible in damages to the defaulting owner. This holding of Henderson, however, is no authority for defendants' position that a secured party cannot have the right to immediate possession of the collateral upon default if actual possession can be secured only through a breach of the peace.

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