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Property I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Cantor, John


o I – Intro: What is Property?
· Blackstone’s perspective
§ The solo and despotic dominion which one man claims ad exercises over the external things of the world
· What is property?
§ Bundle of rights:
· Use
· Exclude
· Transfer
· Prevent harm
§ Bundle of rights are shared
· “shared interests”
· Limitations
· Shared interests
· Circumstances
· time
· Reasons for property
§ Identity
§ Control/security
§ Certainty
§ Liberty
· Reasons for allocation
§ First occupancy
· “First in time”
· Right to exclude, but not in all circumstances
· Right to prevent others from taking it
§ Labor investment
§ Social welfare/efficiency
§ Distributive justice
§ Certainty
· Goffman’s article on asylums and property
§ Importance of property
· Control
· Equality/power
· Self-hood and identity
· Cosmetics, clothing
· Security
· Control over circumstances and appearance
· Tensions
§ Formal vs. informal
· A owns title, B improves property while living there
§ Individual freedom vs. community
· A wants to paint house yellow, B thinks it will ruin value of his house
§ Fungibility/alienability vs. personhood
· A wants to transfer property, but B, renter, doesn’t want a new owner who will evict him
o II – Justifications for Property Allocation
· Acquisition: First Possession & Shared vs. Common Property
§ Pierson v. Post (wild animals)
· Facts: guy chasing fox, shots it, another hunter cuts in, kills it, takes it
· Court:
· Pursuit =/= possession, even if injure – unless mortally injured
· Moral wounding + pursuit = possession
· 3 requirements: intention to possess, deprivation of natural liberty, brought within certain control
· Policy: certainty, order, limiting litigation
· Dissent
· Case should go to experts: sportsmen
· Labor spent = possession

§ Acton v. Blundell (groundwater – treated like oil)
· Facts: D excavated ground to dig for coal, messed with groundwater levels which P was using for his mill
· Court:
· Free use/absolute ownership rule
· Each surface owner is free to pump as much water as wants/can from underneath his property without liability, even if it means pulling water from neighbor’s property
· Most US states follow, but place liability if water is wasted
· Theories
· Free use/absolute ownership
· Reasonable use
· Each neighbor must accommodate one another
· Correlative rights
· Who owes (land) more should get more (water)
· Prior appropriation
· If you were using water first, you should get to keep using it
· Most common method in west