Strictly speaking, replevin is an older form of quasi remedial action which lies in the Court's equity powers. Today, one may simply plea a claim for conversion and seek an injunction ordering turn over in lieu of damages.
The terminology of actions at law and actions at equity have been merged in the modern practice.
Nevertheless, replevin and detinue are still technically viable actions. In fact, suing for replevin will require you to put up the bond and for the personal property to be confiscated, but it is held in the court's possession until the case is decided.
If you want to immediately get the property out of his hands, you would file both conversion and replevin, and ask for the property to be confiscated and placed in the court's registry until the controversy is decided. You would request a temporary injunction for replevin and seek an emergency ex parte hearing with the court. The court would at that point give a cursory review of the merits of your case and then issue an order requiring a replevin bond. The bond will be corresponding to the value of the goods, and the likely value that a defendant would face in defending a wrongfully pled claim. This will be up to the judge in the end.
To establish conversion of personal property, a plaintiff must prove that: (1) the plaintiff owned or had legal possession of the property or entitlement to possession; (2) the defendant unlawfully and without authorization assumed and exercised dominion and control over the property to the exclusion of, or inconsistent with, the plaintiff's rights as an owner; and (3) the plaintiff suffered injury. United Mobile Networks, L.P. v. Deaton, 939 S.W.2d 146, 147-48 (Tex. 1997); Apple Imports, Inc. v. Koole, 945 S.W.2d 895, 899 (Tex. App.--Austin 1997, pet. denied). If the defendant originally acquired possession of the plaintiff's property legally, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant refused to return the property after the plaintiff demanded its return. Presley v. Cooper, 155 Tex. 168, 284 S.W.2d 138, 141 (Tex. 1955); Apple Imports, 945 S.W.2d at 899.
At common law when a defendant unlawfully detained property from a plaintiff, the plaintiff might sue him either in detinue or trover. If he sued in detinue it was because he desired to recover his property together with damages for its unlawful detention. If he sued in trover it was because he elected to treat the detention as a conversion of the property by defendant, whereby the title
thereto passed to defendant as of the time of the conversion, and he recovered the value of the property at the time it was converted.
Hankey v. Employer's Cas. Co., 176 S.W.2d 357, 360-61 (Tex. Civ. App.--Galveston 1943, no writ).
An action for trespass to chattels is similar to conversion but differs in the measure of damages recoverable. O'CONNOR'S TEXAS CAUSES OF ACTION 159 (2008). On a trespass to chattels claim, the plaintiff can recover only the diminished value of his property and the damage to his interest in its possession or use. Id. (citing RESTATEMENT (2D) OF TORTS
§ 222A comt. c)); see Chair King, Inc. v. GTE Mobilnet of Houston, Inc., 135 S.W.3d 365, 395 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.]. 2004), [*28] rev'd on other grounds, 184 S.W.3d 707 (Tex. 2006). An action for trespass to personal property, or personalty, "is an unlawful injury to, or interference with, possession, with or without the exercise of physical force." Jamison v. Nat'l Loan
Investors, L.P., 4 S.W.3d 465, 469 n.2 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 1999, pet. denied).
A statutory civil action
for theft of personal property exists, the difference with a conversion action being the defendant's intent to deprive the plaintiff of the property and additional damages. See TEX. CIV. PRAC. & REM. CODE ANN. §§ 134.003(a), 134.005(a)(1) (Vernon 2005); TEX. PEN. CODE ANN. § 31.03(a), (b) (Vernon Supp. 2009). Conversion does not require proof of wrongful intent to deprive. O'CONNOR'S TEXAS CAUSES OF ACTION 871 (2008).
Replevin is an "action for the repossession of personal property wrongfully taken [*29] or detained by the defendant, whereby the plaintiff gives security for and holds the property until the court decides who owns it." BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1302 (7th ed. 1999); see, e.g., Seureau v. Mudd, 515 S.W.2d 746 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1974, writ ref'd n.r.e.).
Thus, you will want to file claims for both conversion, trespass to chattels, and replevin, just in case any of your possessions are damaged or have been sold.