I. The Significance of Possession
A. Possessor has a right against everyone except for the rightful owner
1. Armory v. Delamirie – Chimney sweeper boy finds jewel. Gives the jewel to a goldsmith to appraise its value and the goldsmith refuses to return the jewel. Court held that possession is powerful and a person who finds a jewel has a right against anyone else except for the rightful owner.
B. Finders vs. Landowners
1. Mislaid Property
i. Mislaid Property is property left by an owner with the intent to return to it and pick it up, but forgot about it. (Example: carefully bundled and found inside a receptacle)
ii. Mislaid property goes to the landowner because the landowner is in the best position to retain it should the true owner return
iii. Terry v. Lock – Construction workers preparing renovations for Lock’s hotel. They found a dusty box when they removed one of the ceiling tiles and it was determined that the box had currency with a $38,000 face value. Lower court held for Lock. The court held that mislaid property goes to owner. Given the circumstance of the case it is apparent that the box was intentionally placed in the ceiling to shield it from others. In Benjamins – the owner of an airplane was awarded money found inside the panel of the wing of the plane. The facts are similar in the present case.
iv. McAvoy v. Medina – Barbershop customer picks up a pocketbook left on a table. Court held the property was mislaid and thus was the barbershop owner’s because the return of the owner was probable.
v. Shamrock Hilton Hotel v. Caranas – Person left her pocketbook on a table in the hotel’s dining room. She returned to retrieve the pocketbook and the hotel accidentally gave it away to an imposter. Court held that the property was mislaid in a suit against the hotel
vi. Morgan v. Wiser – Finder unearthed golden coins while trespassing on another’s land. Court awarded the coins to landowner against arguments that the property was lost or treasure trove to discoura
there are multiple claimants whose rights of possession are of equal quality the court should make an equitable division
4. Treasure Trove
i. Hidden treasure in some jurisdiction is awarded to the finder even through it was meant to be returned to a distant time ago
1. What is a Bailment?
i. Bailment – Possession by someone other than the true owner but there is a relationship between the true owner and the possessor. (Example: Leaving car in parking lot and giving keys to attendant).
ii. Types of bailment –
– “I loan you my bike to use while I do a semester abroad” – Sole benefit of the bailee – duty usually is a bit higher (Extraordinary care)
– “You rent a motorized wheel chair during knee rehab” – mutual benefit bailment – reasonable standard