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Civil Litigation

Can a Claim for Civil Theft & Breach of Contract Co-Exist? Read to Find Out!

By January 17, 2024No Comments

Can a claim for civil theft & breach of contract co-exist? To understand the answer to this question, we need to understand that civil theft (or conversion for that manner) is what we call “common law” causes of action. A “common law” action is a lawsuit governed by law, derived from court decisions rather than a contract or a statute.

Now, in Florida, and most states, you generally cannot sue someone under a “common law” claim if you have a contract with that same party. This is what we call the Economic Loss Rule.[1]

The Florida Third District Court of Appeal has held, “It is a well-established law in Florida that a simple debt which can be discharged by the payment of money cannot generally form the basis of a claim for conversion or civil theft.” Gasparini v. Pordomingo, 972 So. 2d 1053, 1055 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).

However, the court in Gasparini made it clear that in certain circumstances, it’s possible to sue for civil theft, even if a contract exists between the parties. In that regard, the Third District held, “This is not to say that there can never be a claim for civil theft or conversion if there is a contractual relationship between the parties, but rather that the civil theft or conversion must go beyond, and be independent from, a failure to comply with the terms of a contract.” Gasparini v. Pordomingo, 972 So. 2d 1053, 1055 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008).

For money to be the object of conversion or civil theft, “there must be an obligation to keep intact or deliver the specific money in question, so that money can be identified.” Gasparini v. Pordomingo, 972 So. 2d 1053, 1056 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008)

It is also important to note that in Florida, “civil theft” has been made part of the Florida Statutes and it is now “a statutory form of conversion.” Gokalp v. Unsal, 284 So.3d 1097, 1098-99 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019) (citations omitted). “A claim for civil theft consists of conversion plus criminal intent.” Id.

The elements of a civil theft claim under Florida Statutes section 812.014 are:

knowingly obtaining or using or endeavoring to obtain or to use, the property of another with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive that person of his or her right to the property, or a benefit from the property, or appropriate the property to the defendant’s own use, or to the use of a person not entitled to the use of the property.

Orozco v. McCormick 105, LLC, 276 So.3d 932, 935 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019).

For more expert legal guidance on civil trials, civil theft, or contract disputes, contact one of our experienced civil trial attorneys at 305-570-2208. You can also email our lead attorney Eduardo directly at

We at Ayala Law PA are passionate about helping those in legal need, so please don’t hesitate to schedule a case evaluation with us online here.

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