Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Armory v. Delamirie case brief

ARMORY v. DELAMIRIE. (very important case in property law)

(Multiple persons serially claim property on a theory other than purchase or gift from prior owner.)
-Courts usually ask only as between A and B who has the superior title.
Trover: Wrongful taking of personal property without permission of property owner.
Did Pl. have ownership? Yes | Against everyone except rightful owner.
Possession establishes a property right that is better than everyone else except true owner.
Property = in rem (those rights which bind all the world.)
For Trover,
1) have to prove possession.
2) was wrongfully taken.
or rightfully taken, wrongfully detained.
3) demand | refusal to return.
(don’t have to prove damages.)
Possession = exercising dominion of goods.

Armory was a poor chimney sweep who found a jeweled ring. He took it to a jeweler who removed the jewel and told him that the empty ring was only worth 3 halfpence. Armory sued in trover.

Trover is an old common law action for money damages resulting from the defendant taking or using something rightfully belonging to the plaintiff.
In most US courts, this is now referred to as conversion.
This is different from replevin, where you are suing to get your stuff back, as
opposed to just getting money.
The basic rule is that if you find an object, it is yours unless the original owner demands its return.
The English Court found for Armory.
The English Court found that the finder of an object might not have absolute ownership of it, but he has the right to keep it against all by the rightful owner.
If the jeweler didn't produce the jewel, the English Court ordered him to pay an amount equal to the finest jewel that could fit into the empty socket.

[Hypothetical]: After Delamarie pays £50 to Armory | true owner shows up
Is Delamarie forced to pay twice? Or does he have a defense?

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