Friday, February 10, 2012

Hannah v. Peel Case Brief

Hannah v. Peel

FACTS
-Peel (D) purchased a home in 1938 but never moved in. In 1940, during World War II, Peel’s home was requisitioned by the military. Hannah (P) was stationed in the house. Hannah found a brooch on a windowsill in a room in a remote part of the house that was being used as a sickbay.
-Hannah gave the brooch to the police. In 1942 the police gave it to Peel who then sold it for 66 pounds. There was no evidence that D knew of existence of the brooch before P discovered it. Hannah sued to regain possession of the brooch or its value and Peel in turn asserted that he had superior title because the brooch was found on his property.

ISSUE
-Who has the superior title to lost property that is found on land owned by another?

RULES
-Finder of lost property has superior title against the owner of the land on which it was found.
-While a man possesses everything attached to or under his land, he does not necessarily possess a thing lying unattached on the surface. There is no doubt that the brooch was lost property. Peel had neither prior possession of the brooch nor possession of the premises in which it was found at any time.

APPLICATION
-Court considered the authorities and adopted the rule of Bridges v. Hawkesworth. In Bridges, the plaintiff found money in Hawkesworth’s shop and left it with him in case the true owner returned. After three years Bridges sued for its return and the court ruled in his favor, holding that the finder of lost property has superior title to all but the true owner.

Discussed Cases
South Staffordshire Water Co. v. Sherman
-Two rings were found, owner of the land got the rings.
-Found in the course of agency.  Here it was found at the bottom of a pool, not in a public area.

Elwes v. Brigg Gas Co.
-Boat was embedded in soil, court found that the owner was entitled, not the lesee.
-Under the lease did the gas company have right to the boat?  
-Occupancy:  who has first possession?
-As compared to Hannah, Peel (the O) never was in occupancy of the room.  (His ownership was 100% constructive)

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