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Property I
University of Connecticut School of Law
Berger, Bethany

Property Law
Bundle of entitlements often shared
Incl. use, transfer, exclude, prevent harm
Property rights creates control, powers over others identity, security
Personhood becomes tied up w/ personal property
Tragedy of freedom in the commons
Indiv self interest will lead to depletion of common property
Competing Claims to Original Acquisition of Property
Conquest
Johnson v. M’Intosh
Title by conquest acquired/maintained by force
Humanity/policy demands rights of conquered to property should remain unimpaired
Possession
gov’t has often distributed property based on possession even when possessors violating prior law
possession is crucial concept in law
actual possession of contested resource often creates presumption of right to possess that may only be rebutted by evidence of superior claim
Pierson v. Post
Mere pursuit gave D no legal right to fox; no injury/damage to him when P intercepted and killed fox
Ferae naturae – property acquired in such by occupancy only
Popov v. Hayashi
Possession requires physical control over item and intent to control/exclude others from it
Must reduce property to exclusive dominion/control of owner
Oil and Gas
Eliff v. Texon Drilling Co.
Landowner has absolute title to oil/gas in place beneath his land
Rule/law of capture
Landowner acquires title to oil/gas produced from wells on his land despite migration from adjoining lands
No liability for reasonable/legitimate drainage from common pool; no right to waste
Duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid injury/damage to others’ property
Water
Surface water is generally nuisance; other kinds of water generally valuable commercial resources
Ground water
Acton v. Blundell
Free use/absolute ownership doctrine
Each surface owner free to w/draw as much water from beneath surface of his property w/o liability; can’t waste
Argument we shouldn’t have old uses of land/water monopolize efficiency of new uses; balance social utility
Reasonable use
placing limits on ability of surface owners to deprive neighbors of access to groundwater
correlative rights
each owner allowed to w/draw specified portion of groundwater
prior appropriation
grants rights to property owner first invested in w/drawing water
permit system
administered by state/local agency to regulate water use
Streams
Water belongs to owners whose property borders source (riparian owners)
Usufructuary rights in somebody else’s land
Problems when owner’s use interferes w/ riparian owner’s ability to use stream
Reasonable use test
most states use this
Balance factors inc; relative social value of each owner’s use, extent of harm to D, cost-benefit
Prior appropriation doctrine
Minority of states in arid west use this
First user/dvlpr prevails over later user regardless of if riparian owner
Combination of the 2
Some states use this
Finders
Deals w/ property somebody initially had rights to, but someone else now occupies it and has superior rights
Charrier v. Bell
Crt holds no claim to uncovered Indian artifacts b/c
Abandonment requires intent to abandon
Trad’lly buried goods don’t fall under classification of treasures to be found
Artifacts buried w/ intent they’d remain there forever
Notes
Finder of lost (accidentally misplaced)/mislaid (intentionally left) property doesn’t acquire title to property against true owner
True owner has right to recover lost property from finder
Whether finder gets to keep depends on whether owner intended to abandon or merely lost/mislaid it
We reward patent law, copyright law,
Labor and Investment
Intellectual property always protected in US under Constitution
Social welfare tension to incentivize productive labor (creation); but we want as many ppl possible to benefit from creation
International News Service v. Associated Press
Competitor can’t use time sensitive things for a certain pd of time
but only where
P gathers info at cost
Info is time sensitive
D free rides on gathering
D is in direct competition; copying would substantially threaten P’s

ntinuous for statutory period
Tacking w/ privity
Hostile
Majority
No actual or implied permission
Minority
Occupier’s intent to trespass OR
Occupier believed it was his own
Exclusive
Act like owner
Other ppl on the property have your express permission to be there
Must exclude others and owner from property
Actual Possession
Treat as true owner would
Improvements, etc.
in absence of fence, must demonstrate actual possession by engaging in significant activities on land
Open and Notorious
Notice to reasonably diligent owner
Reasonable owner charged w/ seeing what reasonable inspection would disclose
Border Disputes
Brown v. Gobble
Crt found for Ds who bought land under impression fenced in border btw their property and neighbors was theirs
Majority of jurisdictions say adverse possession must be shown by clear and convincing evidence
Interest at stake in adverse possession claim isn’t mere loss of money as in regular civil proceedings, but often loss of homestead, etc.; the stringent std protects these important property interests
Tack different adverse possessions (adding together time pd that successive adverse possessors claim property) to make up period of bar
Ppl holding such possessions must be connected by privity of title or claim (eg. deed, K, oral permission, descent/intestacy)
Periods of AP under 2 different true owners can be tacked together
Title goes to the last possessor
Under disability statutes (inc. infancy, insanity, imprisonment) AP would have to maintain possession for pd of time after disability is lifted
disability must start at inception of AP