This Capsule Summary is intended for review at the end of the semester. Reading it is not a substitute for mastering the material in the main outline. Numbers in brackets refer to the pages in the main outline where the topic is discussed. The order of topics is occasionally somewhat different from that in the main outline.
A. Wild animals: Once a person has gained possession of a wild animal, he has rights in that animal superior to those of the rest of the world.
B. Finders of lost articles: The finder of lost property holds it in trust for the benefit of the true owner, as a bailee. But the finder has rights superior to those of everyone except the true owner. [4-7]
Example: P finds logs floating in a bay. He takes them and moors them with rope. The logs break loose, and are found by D, who takes them and refuses to return them to P. P may recover the value of the logs from D. P’s possession is the equivalent of ownership as against anyone but the true owner.
1. Statutes of limitations: Although the possessor of goods holds them in trust for the true owner, all states have statutes of limitations, at the end of which the true owner can no longer recover the good from the possessor. Usually, the statute of limitations does not start to run until the true owner knows or with reasonable diligence should know the possessor’s identity. [7-8]
A. Bona fide purchasers: The problem of the “bona fide purchaser” arises when one who is in wrongful possession of goods (e.g., a thief, defrauder, finder, etc.) sells them to one who buys for value and without knowledge that the seller has no title. (This buyer is the “bona fide purchaser” or b.f.p.)
1. General rule: The general rule is that a seller cannot convey better title than that which he holds (but subject to exceptions summarized below).
a. Stolen goods: This general rule is always applied when the seller (or his predecessor in title) has stolen the property.