O’Keeffe v. Snyder
O’Keeffe v. Snyder
Procedural History: appeal from order of appellate division granting summary judgment to plaintiff
Facts: P alleges she was owner of paintings that were stolen from NY art gallery in 1946. D says he has title by adverse possession and P’s actions are barred because statute of limitations expired. D impleaded third party Frank, from whom D purchased paintings from in 1975. P discovered one painting missing in 1946, then 2 others 2 weeks later. P did not report paintings missing to police, or any authority, did not advertise in art news but talked about it with colleagues. In 1975, P learned paintings were in Andrew Crispo Gallery in NY. D claims paintings were in his family before the time of the alleged theft.
Issue: Did the statute of limitations bar O’Keeffe from recovering her paintings? When did O’Keeffe’s cause of action accrue?
Rule: Discovery Rule- in an appropriate case (how do we define appropriate?), a cause of action will not accrue until the injured party discovers, or by exercise of reasonable diligence and intelligence should have discovered, facts which form the basis of a cause of action.
Holding: The factual dispute about the loss of the paintings by O’Keeffe and their acquisition by Frank, as well as the other subsequently described factual issues warrant a remand for a plenary hearing. Discovery rule applies to an action for replevin of a painting.
Judgment: appellate court ruling reversed and remanded for plenary hearing
Issues at trial:
• Whether paintings were sold, lent, consigned, or given away, whether there was any relationship between Stieglitz and Dr. Frank
• Did Frank acquire voidable title
Discovery Rule- Trial Court should consider:
• Whether O’Keeffe used due diligence to recover the paintings at the time o the alleged theft and thereafter;
• Whether at the time o the alleged theft there was an effective method, other than talking to her colleagues, for O’Keeffe to alert the art world; and
• Whether registering paintings with the art dealers association of America or any other organization would put a reasonably prudent purchaser of art on constructive notice that someone other than the possessor was the true owner.
• Under discovery rule, artist diligently seeking recovery of painting, but cannot find it or figure out who has it, statute of limitations will not begin to run.
• How do you define due diligence?
• Burden of proof to invoke discovery rule is on the owner…what do they have to prove?