Saturday, December 1, 2012

Pierson v. Post case brief

Pierson v. Post
Property Law Case Brief

Subject:  Wild Animals; Original Possession.

Case Overview:
Post (P) sued after Pierson (D) killed and carried off a fox that Post was on the verge of catching in a fox hunt.

Case Facts:
Post had been a hunting a fox on uninhabited land. Pierson, knowing that Post was pursuing the fox, nonetheless killed it and carried it off, thereby preventing Post from catching the fox. Post sued, claiming that his pursuit of the fox gave him a property right over the fox.

Does the pursuit of a wild animal in itself give rise to possession of that animal?


No, Such pursuit does not give rise to possession over an animal.

Early authorities state that one does not possess an animal until he or she has physically captured that animal. Later authorities relaxed this rule somewhat but still required that the hunter mortally wound or physically trap the animal before a claim of possession arose. Neither line of authority suggests that the mere pursuit of an animal establishes possession of that animal. Indeed, overturning this rule could conceivably allow any person who saw an animal to claim possession of it. Pierson might not have acted courteously in killing the fox that Post had been pursuing, but he committed no legally cognizable wrong.

Dissenting Opinion:

The court should recognize that Post had already invested significant effort in catching the fox when Pierson appeared and carried it off. Few people would engage in fox-hunting if meddlers were allowed to take away the prey at the last minute. The authorities cited by the majority all formed their views long before fox-hunting was a sport. Their weight should be limited accordingly.

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