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ACQUISITION OF ORIGINAL PROPERTY RIGHTS – “FIRST IN TIME”

    PIERSON V. POST: Mr. Post is hunting on public lands. He “scares up and begins chasing” a fox in full view of Pierson. Pierson, however, steps in and kills the fox, then takes it away. Post sues Pierson, and the court identifies the issue as whether or not Post had “such a right, or property in,” the fox as to make Pierson’s conduct wrongful. The court ultimately held for Pierson, concluding that Post lacked “possession” sufficient to give rise to property rights in the fox. This “rule of capture” case is used to demonstrate the importance and meaning of “possession” in property law, where “first in time” is often the governing principle.

    KEEBLE V. HICKERINGILL: Keeble builds a duck decoy pond on his land to attract ducks, which he then captures and sells for profit. Hickeringill is offended by this activity and, without trespassing onto Keeble’s land, fires a shotgun from adjacent land intending to (and succeeding in) scaring off the ducks before Keeble can capture them. Keeble sues Hickeringill for damages. Who should win, and why?

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