Part One: Property as an Institution-An Overview of Property Law:
A. What is Property
a. Property law is based on assumption about how to regulate society
b. Rights in Body Parts
i. Moore v. Regents of the University of California: Policy consideration predominates this case. Supreme Court held that a patient whose cells were removed during an operation and later cultivated into a patented cell line without his knowledge, had no property-based claim against his physicians
1. Conversion- the wrongful exercise of ownership or possessory rights over the personal property of another
2. Holding:We do not have rights to bodily matter once it has been removed therefore conversion doesn’t apply
a. Policy: extension of conversion law in this case will hinder research by restricting access to raw materials
b. Statute:Cal statute limits patient’s control over excised cells
c. Even of P owns his cell he does not own the cell line that came from it. (ex. Pebble is to concrete)
3. RULE: Unauthorized use of human tissue in medical research does not constitute conversion
B. Attributes of Property- (“Bundle of Rights”) none of these rights are absolute. They change and depend on external factors.
a. Right to transfer
i. Jones v. Alfred Mayer: raises the question of the extent to which property rights are absolute.
1. Issue: Whether a white owner’s refusal to sell on the basis of race in violation of a federal statute?
2. Court: Yes, 13th amendment gives everyone equal right to use, enjoy and purchase land. Applies to government and private.
3. Constitutional limitations- violation of 13th amendment rights
b. Right to use
i. Look to nuisance law, and other laws that limit this
c. Right to exclude
i. State v. Shack- Trespass- you cannot exclude everyone from your property, and cannot violate the rights of others who may not own property.
1. Factors to consider: federal funding, workers live there, disadvantage segment of society, purpose of access to provide essential services, unfair bargaining power.
iii. 2 Common Law Rules
1. Golden Rule of Property- Use your property as not to interfere with rights of others
2. Necessity Doctrine- authorizes the state to limit property rights when it is necessary
C. Objects and Classifications of Property
a. Objects of Property
i. Property is both tangible and intangible
ii. Real (land) and Personal (chattels)
b. Classes of Property
i. Immovable (land and things permanently attached- real property
ii. Movables (chattels – personal property)
c. Definitions and General Considerations
i. Fixture- although originally a chattel is by reason of its association w/ land, regarded as part of the land. 3 phases:
1. Owner of land installs
2. Tenant installs fixtures.
3. Annexor of fixture may not own the same, or his ownership may be encumbered by the security interest of another
d. Edwards v. Sims- Trespass case. Did court have ju
iscovery. Native Americans used the land but did not “possess” it and therefore cannot transfer land.
2. Issue: Whether Native Americans can transfer title to land. Whether they possess land. NO, b/c they were savages.
3. Takeaway- promote competition (reward for capture not pursuit), ease of administration (certainty)
iii. Shelly v. Kreamer: Racial covenant case. Did the court’s upholding of this covenant constitute state action?
1. Purely private action ß—à state/local law
a. This case fits somewhere between what is clearly not state action and what clearly is
2. D’s arguments;
a. proper exertion of police power
b. discrimination available to anyone
3. Issue 1: Can judicial action = state action
b. Private action does not violate
4. Issue #2: Does this action violate the Constitution
a. when a court’s action has the effect of denying rights, court has obligation to enforce what Constitution demands.
b. In enforcing restrictive agreements, states denied Ps equal protection of the laws (14th amend)
5. Rule: The equal protection clause of the 14th amendment prohibits judicial enforcement by state courts of restrictive covenants based on race or color