Can CHP seize a million-dollar car while the parties fight over it? | Lawrence v. Superior Court

Brandon Lawrence purchased a rare 1947 Cisitalia from a Japanese company (Ohtomi Kensetsu Kahushiki Kaisha). A Japanese citizen, Kiyoshi Takihana, reports the car as stolen to the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Takihana owned the Cisitalia before Ohtomi.

CHP seized the car from a repair shop. Mr. Lawrence provided evidence to the CHP that the car was not stolen, but that Ohtomi failed to pay the full amount due to Takihana.

CHP was unable to determine the true owner after a four-month investigation. CHP determined that the dispute was essentially civil in nature but refused to return the car without a court order.

CHP cannot demonstrate that the car was stolen or embezzled and must return it to Brandon Lawrence under the principles of due process.

Lawrence v. Superior Court, (2018)

Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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