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Property I
University of Kansas School of Law
Davis, Michael J.

Property Outline:
Reducing an Object to Possession
What must be taken into account when determining if an object has been reduced to possession?
The nature of the object (big, small, movable, attached)
The location of the object (land owners property, in city, jungle, public, private)
Abandonment (wild animals have not been abandoned)
Control must be maintained to keep possession
Rights of Possession:
1.        Finder has rights to the item against all except original owner
2.        May not have rights against the land owner (item was affixed, finder was a trespasser, chambermaid exception)
3.        Prior Finders (first finder get all rights as true owner)
Public Policy for the rights of finders and rights of Possession:
1.        Prevents further down the line takings
2.        Maintains the usefulness of the item
3.        Rewards alertness and industrialism
4.        Fairly clear rule that is easy for the courts to decide
Duties of the Finders:
1.        Take reasonable efforts to find the owner
2.        Duty to maintain the object, to keep it, take care of it and give it back when true owner is found
Why become a finder, when there is no duty to become a finder.
1.        Possibility of reward
2.        After a specified time the item becomes the property of the finder (adverse possession)
3.        Possibility of abandonment
4.        Finder has right to use and possess the item against all the world except the true owner.
Finders may loose rights to:
1.        True owner
2.        Land owner
a.        If the item is buried or embedded
b.       If item is mislaid
c.        Item is on private premises
d.       Finder is a trespasser
3.        Prior Finder
4.        Container
Acquisition Defined: the finder must do more than just find property… they must take it into possession or be in the process of taking it into possession.
                A finder must have:
                                1. Physical control of the item AND
                                2. an intent to assume dominion over the item
                                                a. look for effort (time, money, physical effort)
b. Only reward successful pursuits otherwise they will make claims for simply pursuing
c. Easier to enforce if you use actual taking
Voluntary Transfer – this is from the original owner’s point of view
Involuntary Acquisition – the act of gaining possession or control without the original owner’s consent
I.                     Subsequent Possession
a.        Finders
                                                               i.      Rights against all except:
1.        true owner
2.        if item is embedded, landowner rule applies
3.        Prior finders
                                                              ii.      Possession Counts because:
1.        it rewards alertness
2.        easy to tell the difference
3.        promotes positive behavior
                                                            iii.      Possession Duties
1.        Duty to locate the original owner
a.        Reasonable effort
2.        Duty to maintain
a.        Reasonable wear and tear only
3.        Finder v. Landowner
a.        Location is very important

                                                            iii.      Creation of the Bailment
1.        No contract is required, just the transfer of possession
2.        The bailee must have actual physical control
3.        Must intend to assume custody and control over the item
4.        Bailee must have intent to possess
                                                            iv.      Rights of the Bailee
1.        The bailee is only in possession not the insurer of the property
2.        The bailee is only liable for damage if there was a lack of care
3.        The duty changes when the benefit to the parties change
d.       Standard of Duty (varies w/who is benefiting)
                                                               i.      Mutually benefiting parties
1.        Ordinary and reasonable care
2.        When both parties benefit from the bailment, there is ordinary diligence to protect the property by the bailee
                                                              ii.      Bailor benefits
1.        Lower Standard of Care
2.        When only the bailor benefits then the bailee is only liable for gross negligence… that is a lower standard of care.
                                                            iii.      Bailee benefits
1.        Higher Standard of Care