PROPERTY (Section 1)
Spring Semester 2013
Finding and Bailments
Questions for Thought on pages 130-145

1. Consider the following questions about the Armory v. Delamirie case:

(a) Why would the chimney sweep's boy ask for damages (via the writ of trover) rather than possession of the jewel (via the writ of replevin)?

(b) Assume the jewels had a fair market value of $5,000, and that the chimney sweep's boy had asked for damages from the goldsmith. Why should the chimney sweep be awarded damages of $5,000 if he is not the true owner of the jewels? Are the jewels really worth $5,000 to him? Why or why not?

(c) Why not allow the goldsmith to use the jus tertii principle as a defense to Armory's suit? In other words, why not allow the goldsmith to say "I shouldn't have to pay you damages, because you aren't the true owner; I should only have to pay damages if I'm sued by the true owner."? Does the court's result put the goldsmith at risk of having to pay damages twice (i.e., also having to pay damages to the true owner if the true owner of the jewels shows up and sues the goldsmith)?

2. Suppose that Bailey takes in a stray dog. After caring for the dog for several months, he ultimately decides to keep the dog. While walking the dog one day, the dog breaks loose from its leash and runs off. Bailey looks for the dog for several weeks, but can't find it. Unbeknownst to him, the dog ends up on land owned by Hawley, who takes in the dog, cares for it for months, and eventually decides to keep it. Several months later, by chance, Bailey discovers the dog in Hawley's possession and demands that Hawley return it. When Hawley refuses, Bailey sues him to recover the dog. Does the rule expressed in Armory v. Delamirie answer this question? Why or why not?

3. What is the logic behind the “lost/mislaid/abandoned” test applied in Benjamin? What policy goals seem to be relevant to the judges deciding the Benjamin case? Are there other policies that you think might be relevant in finding disputes? If so, what are they? Do you agree with the result in the Benjamin case?

4. What is the purpose of the Iowa "finding statute" as discussed in the Benjamin case? Do you think the finding statute is really relevant to the dispute in Benjamin? Why or why not?

5. Suppose that Mitchell is getting ready to check out of a hotel room. For some reason, he opens the in-room safe (even though he's sure he didn't put anything in there in the first place). To his surprise, the safe contains diamond jewelry. He turned the jewelry over to the hotel, figuring the prior occupant of the room left it there, and the hotel could contact them. On his next trip to the hotel six months later, he discovered that the true owner had still not reclaimed the jewelry, and thus he demanded that the hotel return the jewelry to him (the finder). Can he make such a demand after turning the jewelry over to the hotel? Why or why not?

6. Now suppose that you are working at the hotel's front desk when Mitchell comes down with the jewelry. Mitchell asks you for the name and address of the prior occupant of the room, saying "I've found jewelry and want to contact them to make sure they get it back." What do you do?