"The advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time."
posted by Chris M. G @ 12/17/2007 10:23:00 AM
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hey! I learned this in property class this semester! I didn't bring my law books home for Christmas but I think I can remember how to do this off the top of my head.Cash and other highly precious objects, when found, are called "treasure trove" and the finder's rights go to the finder, not to the owner of the premises where it is found. The social policy goal behind this common law is to help return these items to the original owner or his heirs. After all, if the common law favored the owner of the premises, and the contractor found the items on those premises, the contractor might be inclined to abscond with the treasure trove and not inform the owner of the premises or anyone else. But since the law does favor the contractor, he will be less likely to hide the fact that he has found it, and the original owner or his heirs have more chance of hearing about it and recovering the money.So, for the first $25,200 in bills that the contractor found on his own, the contractor prevails against anyone except the original owner or his heirs. It seems that it would be very difficult for any other party to prove ownership or heirship to the true owner, so basically the contractor has the money scott free.For the money that the contractor found along with the homeowner, it seems most probable that a court would award half to each of them.I freely admit that this may be the most boring and poorly-written post ever on LYMA.That will be $150.(Hey, you should be glad that I'm only a first-year law student. The full-fledged LYMA lawyers would have charged your more.)
What if you rent?Actually, since I don't own this place, I think I'll bash a few holes in my bathroom's walls. On second thought, my building was built post-Depression era and has only housed poor renters.Damn...my landlord's going to kill me.
Chris,Might be a little late on this one, but out of curiosity (and b/c my Property prof was a joke), just wanted to see how prevalent the Treasure Trove concept is. I understand that it has roots in traditional common law, but haven't most state courts displaced it?Just wondering.
Dan,It seems you are right. My professor was a good one, but he did not point out a footnote that I read, forgot about, and now have re-read:"Nowadays... the tendency is to treat treasure trove like any other found property (meaning it might be classified as lost or mislaid or abandonned)." The case book then goes on to mention in passing cases in Iowa, Idaho, and Missouri where the courts rejected the law of treasure, considering it "unfit for modern times."Thank you, sir - you may have saved me an embarrassing slip-up years from now in front of a paying client, or worse, on the bar exam.By the way, my contracts professor was a joke, so maybe someday we should get together and you can teach me something about contracts and I'll teach you something about property!
Okay, so to correct my earlier post, given Dan's correction:The money is almost certainly "mislaid," a legal term that basically means that the person who put the money there was at least somewhat cogniscent of the fact that he put it there. This is the opposite of legally "lost." The money would all go to the owner of the proprety, unless this jurisdiction still follows the old common law of treasure trove, in which case my earlier analysis would apply.