Can someone deny my ownership because money is fungible?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can someone deny my ownership because money is fungible?

I gave a partner money to buy an item which we would resell and then split profit. My partner bought it and sold it. He returned my capital but did not give me my share of the profit. Now he says that I never owned a share of the item because money is fungible, so in effect I cannot say that he used my money to make the purchase. If I give you money to buy something tangible, and you do buy it, is it true that I cannot say you used my money to buy it because money is fungible? That seems absurd. If it is not so and I can say he used my money, what do I say to assert my ownership?

Asked on August 7, 2019 under Business Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

His argument is absurd. There is NO legal requirement that someone use the exact same bills your handed him in order to prove that it was bought jointly. Rather, if there is an agreement--as there was--that you and he would jointly pay for an resell something, and you honored your obligation by providing the money you were supposed to, then he is contractually obligated to honor the rest of the agreement and give you your share of the profit. It doesn't matter if you gave him cash, a check, a money order, a debit card, an electronic funds transfer, etc.: all that matters is that there was an agreement between the two of you and you complied with your obligations. Having done that, you can enforce the agreement against him. That's the good news for you--you have a right to your share of the profit.
The bad news is, if he won't voluntarily pay you, you'd have to sue him for the money. If this happened in NV, you'd have to sue him there; but if you are now in Canada, suing internationally may be more trouble and cost (including your travel costs to court) than it is worth.

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