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Property I
University of Iowa School of Law
DeLaTorre, Phillip E.


A. Property Right – A property right is a protection by the state of a claim to valuable resources.
B. The Rule of Capture – General rule of thumb = First in Time, First in Right
☼1. Possession / Occupancy– 1) Intent to possess the property 2) a certain amount of actual control over the property (actual seizure or holding of the property will suffice) à Eads v. Brazelton
☼2. Capture of Wild Animals – Wild animals are the property of no one unless they are reduced to possession à Capture rule. “mere pursuit” ≠ possession. Requires actual capture.Mortal wounding by one not abandoning pursuit = possession.
A) Animal mortally wounded or trapped so that capture is virtually certain = capture.
1. Pierson v. Post: If a pursuer takes actual physical possession of wild animal the pursuer acquires a property right in the animal

Pierson v. Post: A pursuer who mortally wounds the wild animal and continues his pursuit might also acquire a property right in the animal as against one who actually kills the animal; continued pursuit is evidence of the pursuer’s intent to appropriate.
B) Animal in the process of being captured but door has not snapped shut ≠ capture.
1.      State v. Shaw: pursuer acquires a property right where reasonable steps taken to prevent escape
2.      Young v. Hichens: escape possible; pursuer does not acquire property right
3.      Return to Natural State: If a wild animal is captured, and then escapes to return to its natural state, courts held that the finder’s ownership is extinguished, becomes property of whoever recaptures him.

C) Constructive Possession – Possession that has the same effect in law as actual possession although it is not actual possession in fact. Another way of saying title to land gives title to whatever is found on it. One can be deemed to have possession of property as a legal conclusion even though she does not have actual possession of the property as an observable fact. Objects found underneath the soil are deemed to be constructive possession à South Staffordshire Water Co. v. Sherman

D) Custom may dictate result – Customs are locale or market specific.  
1.       Ghen v. Rich: court determined that a hunter acquired a property right in a whale that the hunter had wounded even though the hunter di

or possessor may have a superior claim.
a.       claim, such as a tattoo, on a rare animal would be sufficient for original possessor to retain animal; if subsequent purchaser was bona fide, however, the buyer may have a property claim.
b.      elephant in Iowa; captured by A. A would not have a property right b/c reasonable person would know elephant should not be in Iowa
c.       Intent to return à if wild animal has the intent to return, the prior possessor will have the rights

C. Acquisition by Find – The saying “ finders keepers, losers weepers” is NOT ACCURATE. The finder of lost property holds it, at least for a certain time, in trust for the benefit of the true owner; thus he is a custodian, or “bailee” for the true owner à Finder has rights superior to those of everyone except the true owner. à Armory v. Delamirie
1.       A finder taking possession of personal property must:
Physical Control, over the goods; and