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Property I
University of Pennsylvania School of Law
Parchomovsky, Gideon

Property Law—General
I.                    Property is a “bundle of rights” that can include, among other things:
a.       The right to transfer
b.      The right to exclude
c.       The right to possess
d.      The right to use
e.       The right to sell
f.        The right to give
II.                 Property law governs the relationships between people with regard to control over valuable resources
III.               The foundation of all law?
a.       Property protected against the government (con)
b.      Property protected by criminal statutes (crim)
c.       Property can be protected by contract (k)
d.      Property can be recovered in tort (torts)
IV.              Theories of Property rights
a.       Lockean (labor theory)
                                                               i.      Every person has property rights in his or her body
                                                             ii.      Every person thus owns their own labor
                                                            iii.      When this labor is mixed with unowned resource, the resource becomes personal property
                                                           iv.      Two provisos: must not commit waste and there must be enough left for other people
b.      First possession
                                                               i.      Appeal of this theory: clarity
c.       Hegel (personhood theory) see Groffman article “The debate over private property.”
                                                               i.      Human beings seek property or external object to project their identity. Unique properties of each individual projected through their property
                                                             ii.      General property system symbolizes social recognition—society then recognizes each individual’s special traits.
d.      Demsetz (evolutionary theory)
                                                               i.      Story is one of transaction costs. Every time there is a transition from one property regime to another (common property to private property, for example) there are costs. The benefit must exceed the cost for transition to take place
1.      criticism
a.       “tragedy of the commons” does not always play out. Informal rules can regulate
b.      tragedy of anti-commons (Michael Heller)
                                                                                                                                       i.      too many property rights can lead to underutilization of resources
c.       underlying assumptions invalid: human beings aren’t rational, utility-maximizing creatures.
V.                 Policy concerns in Property law
a.       Fairness
                                                               i.      Theories are not monolithic but share common concern about justice or equality among individuals
                                                             ii.      Sometimes will ask if there is a custom between the parties that has dictated fairness
b.      Efficiency
                                                               i.      Goal is to increase the size of the economic pie
                                                             ii.      Efficiency always imposes values and priorities on society. If we impose the “efficient” solution, we might later find that the value it was meant to uphold is obsolete (future generations might prefer a more “efficient” solution)
VI.              Land and Property Theory
a.       Blackstonian model
                                                               i.      Sole owner
                                                             ii.      In perpetuity
                                                            iii.      The right extends up to heavens and down to the bottom of the earth
                                                           iv.      Absolute right to exclude
                                                             v.      Absolute right to use and abuse land
                                                           vi.      Title is completely transferable
I.                    Acquisition
a.       Wild Animals (ferae naturae)
                                                               i.      Capture: Wild animals in nature are public property. One acquires rights in a wild animal when they take possession. Simple chase of the animal is not enough (Pierson v. Post)
                                                             ii.      Trapping or wounding: trapping or mortally wounding an animal is enough to constitute constructive possession (Pierson v. Post)
                                                            iii.      Custom: Courts may decide that a pre-existing custom should decide who has property in wild animals especially if the rule is very specific to that industry (and hence won’t upset property regimes elsewhere) (Ghen v. Rich)
1.      Why should law respect social norms?
a.       Pragmatic—if not broke, don’t fix it
b.      Information costs—social norms are often more accessible. Also, sometimes an industry will know best how to police itself
c.       Social norms are self-enforcing
2.      problems with social norms/customs
a.       prejudice—social norms can help one group at expense of another.
b.      Difficult to change
c.       Vague
d.      No formal dispute resolution mechanism
                                                           iv.      Interference with capture: If Δ interferes with capture of wild animals by person engaged in business, court found that person could receive damages even though not in “possession” because of interference with a trade. (Keeble v. Hickeringill)
                                                             v.      Capture and release: If wild animal captured and then released, the capturer

le to the object next to the true owner (Armory v. Delamirie in which finder has right to recover for subsequent theft)
                                                             ii.      Lost V. Mislaid property
1.      Lost: item unintentionally left true owner’s possession
a.       Normal rule applies
2.      mislaid: item intentionally placed in an area is accidentally left behind
a.       landowner has possession (McAvoy v. Medina)
II.                 Bailments
a.       Defined
                                                               i.      Rightful possession of goods by one who is not their owner.
                                                             ii.      Elements
1.      Bailee must have physical control over item
2.      bailee must intend to assume custody and control
b.      Types and requisite duties
                                                               i.      Mutual benefit (i.e. someone pays another to care for house)
1.      duty is one of ordinary diligence
                                                             ii.      sole benefit of bailor (i.e., someone watches house for free)
1.      bailee only liable for gross negligence
                                                            iii.      sole benefit of bailee (i.e. you let someone borrow your car)
1.      bailee has duty of extraordinary care
                                                           iv.      involuntary bailment
1.      duty is one of slight care (or no duty to take affirmative steps to protect)
c.       All bailment categories are subject to contractual modification
III.               Law of accession
a.       Definition of question
                                                               i.      What happens if someone improves another’s property by mistake? This is accession.
b.      Traditional rule: owner of the original materials has title to finished product unless finished product is radically different (i.e., grapes turned into wine)
c.       Modern rule: If disproportionate value is added to original materials by someone who acquired the materials in good faith, original owner is entitled to merely the market value of the raw materials.
                                                               i.      GOOD FAITH: must be in good faith. Don’t want to encourage private right of pseudo-eminent domain