Ways to Acquire Property.
1. General Rule: Whoever is possession at the time wins.
2. Capture of Wild Animals: wild animals must be captured to be owned. Mere chase isn’t enough, and an owner of land does not automatically own the wild animals on the land.
Wounded or trapped animals: if an animal has been mortally wounded or trapped so that capture is practically certain, it is treated as captured.
1) A competitor can interfere with another person’s attempt to capture only if he intends to capture the animal.
2) Generally a captor must acquire physical control over the animal absent a custom to the contrary.
3) Mortal wounding, snaring, nets, to deprive of natural liberty (dicta). Reasonable prospect of capture (dissent).
Escaped wild animals: Original captor loses possession unless still in hot pursuit.
I. How’s the property classified?
Characterization of Property Found: rights of finders varying according to type of property found.
1) Benjamin v. Lindner Aviation: P working for D, inspecting airplane. Opened panel and found bundles of money. Both filed a claim to the money. The money is considered mislaid and therefore belongs to the owner of the premises where it was found (easier for real owner to find). Owner of plane has right to possession of the property to all but true owner.
2) Categories of Found Property
a. Belongs to finder:
i. Abandoned: Owner no longer wants object and voluntarily gives up rights. Belongs to finder against all others including former owner.
ii. Lost: Involuntarily parts w/ object and doesn’t know where it is. Belongs to finder against all others but original owner. Policy: Rewards honesty and encourage reuniting w/ true owner. Allowing true owner to recover discourages theft and protects their “first in time principle”, just because lost doesn’t mean you lose title/property right to it. Might be able to prove prior possessor.
iii. Treasure Trove: Coins or currency. Must include element of antiquity. Hidden for such a length that owner is dead or undiscoverable. Belongs to finder….
b. Belongs to owner:
i. Mislaid: Owner puts in it certain place then forgets where it was put. Finder acquires no rights. Belongs to owner of premise against all others but owner (makes it easier for true owner to find- policy).
· Location key in determining between lost and mislaid. Inferred from location whether it was left there intentionally or not.
II. Status of the Finder
Finder’s Rule: The finder, though he does not get absolute ownership, has claim over all but the rightful owner. Based on three things:
First Finder: The person that first finds item has enough property right to
money found in owner’s store. Finder of money has right to it over owner of store. In public place, never in protection of home.
Employee – employers (agency): If found in course of employment, have duty to turn it over to employer.
Trespasser – if found in the course of trespassing, given to locus in quo
III. Modern Statute: Some states have enacted legislation to always give to finder if the true owner fails to reclaim the property.
a. What categories does the statute apply to?
i. Always give to finder (collapse all 4 categories)
ii. Benjamin applies statute to only finders of lost property (statutes do not always address all problems like finder vs. landowner)
iii. Procedures: if follow procedures and no one comes forward as rightful owner, finder would be given property right.
Rights & Responsibilities of Possessors
I. What is bailment?
1. Contract between people in respect to some item. Possession of an object by someone who is not the true owner, but right possession subject to contract with true owner.