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Property I
St. Johns University School of Law
DiLorenzo, Vincent M.

Property I – Outline
1. Bundle of Rights:
Don’t have to have all the rights associated with property
Rights associated with property can be divided amongst others
2. Causes of action:
a. Trespass on the case (used for personal property):
– Elements:
i. There is a property right (any right)
ii. Another has interfered with that right
– no authorization for other person to interfere
iii. The interference has caused an injury
– interference does not have to be intentional
iv. There are damages due to the injury
a. right to possess
b. right of use
c. right to the fruits & profits
d. right to alienate
e. right to destroy
– deprivation of possession is an injury
b. Conversion (a.k.a Trover):
– Elements:
i. The right of possession
ii. The intention of a defendant to interfere with property rights
iii. No authorization for other person to interfere
iv. Compensation – the full value of the property
v. The interference must be a significant and serious interference.
– not necessarily a total destruction of the property
– selling someone else’s property
– possessing property of another for a long time
– Elements:
i. – iii. Same as conversion
iv. Compenstation – want to recover the property back
Property Rights based on Possession
3. Wild Animals
a. What is a wild animal?
– Based on generally held expectations of where the animal is located
– Does this type of animal usually have an owner?
b. General Rule: to own a wild animal you must possess the animal
– Pursuit is not possession
– Occupancy is equivalent to possession in the case of wild animals
Requirements to obtain property rights in a wild animal:
Public Policy for intent requirement:
A.) there are a limited supply of wild animals
B.) there are obligations tied to ownership (i.e. liability for a wild animals’ actions)
Public Policy for possession requirement:
C.) provides objective evidence of intent
D.) provides objective evidence of the indentity of the animal
E.) gives others notice of your claim
Exceptions to Possession requirement:
Rationi Soli – when a trespasser fits the general rule (intent & possession) the owner of the land has a right to the animal.
– to deprive the animal of his natural liberty, to bring the animal within your certain control
– to appropriate the animal for your individual use
Public Policy: to discourage trespassers
Custom – Mortal wounding may be enough if:
– It is customary for the industry
– It is the only possible way to take possession of the animal (occupancy is impossible)
Loss of Rights:
If an animal regains its natural liberty at anytime then property rights are lost
– Natural liberty means:
1. free from artificial restraints
2. return to its natural habitat
– Animus Revertendi: the animal has the habit of returning to their owner, it has been trained to return.
Public Policy: to reward the labor of the trainer by allowing him to keep the animal
Law of wild animals applies to natural resources
If they are have the natual tendency to wander from one place to another (i.e. water, oil, and natural gas)
A possessor has a qualified interest in a w

r gets possession
b. Private Place (Rules)
i. Lost – Fee Owner gets possession
ii. Mislaid – Fee Owner gets possession
iii. Abandoned – Fee Owner gets possession
– Trespass rule – normally fee owner gets constructive possession unless lost or abandoned in public, want to discourage trespass.
– if person who is the finder and has intent is trespassing then right of possession goes to the Fee Simple (i.e. NY – no constructive find)
People who find while working:
a. Employees find for their employer in the course of their employment.
– applies to servants, agents, and employees
b. Independent contractors find for themselves.
How do you tell if a person is an independent contractor?
Who controls their day to day conduct?
Who owns the tools of the trade?
Would the activities cease if the relationship between the person doing the work and the person benefiting from the work ended?
5. Bailments:
Bailee – a person who voluntarily takes possession of the true owner’s property and agrees to keep it safe.
Quasi-Bailee – a person who the law involuntarily imposes the duties of a bailee upon.
– Obligations are impose to maximize the likelihood that the property will be returned to the true owner.
– A Fee Owner is a prior finder when they are a quasi-bailee