Replevin: A Courtroom Procedure to Get Your Colorado Business Property Back

May 06, 2013

By Reed Morris

Lawsuits take time and can be expensive. Sometimes, though, you can obtain early court rulings such as preliminary injunctions where the court preliminarily rules on the merits of a case after an evidentiary hearing held within the first few weeks after filing a lawsuit. Often this preliminary court ruling drives early settlement and efficient resolution of the case within weeks instead of months.

In business lawsuits in Colorado involving personal property, such preliminary relief from the court is available in what is called a replevin action. Our recent experience litigating these specific types of property lawsuits provides us experience with a great tool for business owners to recover their property. 

The use of a replevin claim in connection with a breach of a contract case can have the same impact as a preliminary injunction where the subject of a dispute concerns personal property. A replevin action is where a plaintiff brings a claim asking the return of wrongfully held property during a pending lawsuit for damages or breach of contract. Like a preliminary injunction, a replevin claim is initiated in Colorado upon filing a sworn pleading with the court. The court will set an evidentiary hearing (called a show cause hearing) within 14 days where the judge is asked whether the property held by the defendant should be taken and given to the plaintiff. The court may make preliminary factual findings as to the ownership or rights to possession in the property pending final resolution of the case.   

As a tool in commercial litigation, replevin actions can assist Colorado business owners in recovering leased equipment or assist financial institutions in recovering collateral where there is a breach of lease or credit agreement. A replevin claim can also be added to a lawsuit to recover property such as a company laptop or cell phone from a former employee or sub-contractor. Recovery of electronic data or domain names may also be achieved using this procedure. 

Mallon & Lonnquist, LLC, is a business and real estate law firm. Reed F. Morris is a Colorado business and real estate litigation attorney with Mallon & Lonnquist, based in Denver, Colorado. Reed regularly represents businesses and individuals in disputes from pre-filing through trial and can be reached at rmorris@mallon-lonnquist.com.  

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