A cause of action is a set of predefined factual elements that allow for a legal remedy. The factual elements needed for a specific cause of action can come from a constitution, statute, judicial precedent, or administrative regulation.
For instance, in New York, the “cause of action” necessary for conversion are 1) the existence of the plaintiff’s possessory right or interest in the item and 2) defendant’s dominion over that item or interference with it in derogation of plaintiff’s rights (stated through case law - see Colavito v New York Organ Donor Network, Inc.). Likewise, in California, the elements for conversion are also dictated through case law. In the California Supreme Court case Lee v. Hanley, the court states that the elements of conversion are (1) the plaintiff’s ownership or right to possession of the property; (2) the defendant’s conversion by a wrong act or disposition of plaintiff’s property rights; and (3) damages suffered by plaintiff.
See Claim and Civil procedure.
[Last updated in July of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]