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Wetherbee v. Green

Law Dictionary

Law Dictionary

Featuring Black's Law Dictionary 2nd Ed.
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Property Law Keyed to Cribbet

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 22 Ill.22 Mich. 311 (1870)

Brief Fact Summary. Wetherbee (Defendant) made hoops from timber cut from Plaintiff’s land. Wetherbee claimed he so did in good faith, being granted permission for the cutting by a party he thought had the authority to give such permission.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. In cases where one trespasses onto the land of another without any intent to trespass, and in good faith, and takes from the land chattels which are then transformed by the unintentional trespasser by his own labor and expenditures into a form which manifests a substantial change of identity of the chattel, the owner of the chattel so converted is only entitled to receive compensation for the trespass and is not entitled to replevy the chattel in its transformed form.

Facts. Defendant Wetherbee entered onto Plaintiff’s land and cut some timber which was then carried away and transformed by Defendant into hoops through an expenditure of effort by Defendant. Defendant mistakenly believed that he had been given permission to enter the Plaintiff’s land, but the permission was given by a third party without authorization. Thereafter, Plaintiff sued Defendant for replevin of the hoops. Defendant offered to show that the timber was worth only twenty five dollars while the hoops were worth near seven hundred dollars. Plaintiff prevailed in the trial court and Defendant appealed.

Issue. When a party unintentionally trespasses upon the land of another and converts chattels taken in the trespass into a new product, does the unintentional trespasser obtain a right to the transformed chattel such that the landowner may not replevy such chattel?

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