Saturday, December 1, 2012

Wetherbee v. Green case brief

Wetherbee v. Green
Property Law Case Brief

Subject: Conversion of Property.

Case Overview:
Green (Plaintiff) sued after Wetherbee (Defendant) cut down some of Green’s trees and used the wood to make barrel hoops.

Case Facts:
Wetherbee had cut down some trees belonging to Green, apparently having mistaken them for trees which he did have permission to cut down. Wether- bee used the wood to make barrel hoops, and Green sued to repossess those hoops.

May an owner repossess property accidentally taken by another even though the taker has already transformed that property into something considerably more valuable?

No, An owner may not repossess such property. The remedy consists only of damages for the original taking.

English common law held that an owner could recover accidentally taken property as long as that property was not so transformed as to be unrecogniz- able to the senses. Therefore, incremental improvements on misappropriated property did not prevent true owner from repossessing that property. This test, however, presents practically difficulties, as in the case of timber incor- porated into a much larger building. The proper resolution of such problems is to give ownership of the disputed property to the party that made the improvements and to limit the original owner to damages incurred by the original taking.

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