Today the Second Circuit reversed dismissal of a claim for conversion of electronic data. The court thus accepted the answer, by the New York Court of Appeals, to the question of whether detention of intangible property may satisfy the elements of the "conversion" tort. Thyroff v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., No. 05-4005-cv (2d Cir. June 15, 2007).
Thyroff may give pause to employers who routinely lock firees out of company computer systems and refuse to let them retrieve personal programs and data.
Employers may try to mitigate potential liability by declaring anything that employees put on the employers’ systems the sole property of the employers.