Personal Property

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Personal Property
2011-06-05 18:03:13
personal property

Personal Property
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  1. Finders
    • Must distinguish between lost and abandoned
    • property.
    • --If abandoned, you get to keep.
    • --If lost, you have to try to return.

    • To show abandonment,
    • --Physical act (give up possession);
    • --Mental state (intent to relinquish title and control).
    • --[Usually not a hard showing, esp. if you throw something out.]

    If not abandoned, then lost.

    --Owner always has superior claim to finder.

    --Rights of the finder if owner never claims:

    ---Value < $20. Finder must “make reasonable efforts to locate the owner” for 1 year; thereafter can keep.

    ---Value > $20. Must turn over to the police. Police must hold item for specified period, depending on value, after which finder can keep.
  2. Gifts
    Issue will be whether donor can revoke the gift.

    To determine whether the gift is final, must distinguish between inter vivos and causa mortis gifts.

    Inter vivos gifts. To be irrevocable,

    --Donor must have donative intent (intent to part with title, not just possession). Will normally be proven by statements at time of gift, and by circumstantial context.

    --Must be a valid acceptance by the donee (silence usually enough; affirmative rejection usually needed to overcome).

    --Must be delivery (transfer of possession) (item itself vs. emblem of item).

    Special situations re delivery

    • --First Party Checks. Delivery is not complete until the check is cashed.
    • --Third Party Checks. Delivery occurs when the physical check is turned over.
    • --Stock Certificates. Gift complete when certificates turned over. Doesn’t matter than transaction has not been recorded on corporate books.
    • --Agents. Donor handing off to donor’s agent is not delivery, but receipt by donee’s agent is delivery.

    • Causa mortis gifts. To be irrevocable,
    • --Must be imminent risk of death to donor that is objectively likely to occur.
    • --Not valid gift if donee dies first.
  3. Lien
    Security device to enforce payment of debt.


    • 1. Debt relating to the performance of services;
    • 2. Creditor has possession of the property in question (on which the lien is obtained);
    • 3. Debtor retains title to the property.

    General vs. special lien.

    General lien. The right of the creditor to retain a bunch of property as security for a general balance due. If the creditor returns a portion of the property, this does not discharge the lien.

    Special lien. The right to retain specific property in connection with services that were performed on that property (mechanic’s lien).
  4. Bailments
    Arises when you voluntarily turn over possession of personal property to a person, and that person takes possession with consent for some specific purpose (coat-checks; lending neighbor lawnmower).

    • Whether Bailment Exists
    • Items inside other items. Ordinary vs. extraordinary items (gloves vs. diamond ring in coat).
    • --But, safe-deposit boxes.

    Parking lots. “park and lock”=license; leave keys = bailment.

    • Bailee's Obligation
    • Generally, bailee must exercise “reasonable prudence” during the term of the bailment. Thus, essentially, you can bring an ordinary negligence claim again any bailee who breaks your property.

    • Limiting Bailee's Obligation
    • --Bailees can limit liability by contract, but
    • cannot entirely exculpate themselves.
    • --And can’t limit from intentional torts.