Hannah v. Peel Case Brief

Summary of Hannah v. Peel (1945)

Plaintiff, while stationed at defendant’s house, found a brooch. He turned the brooch over to his supervisor, who gave it to police. When no owner was found, police returned the brooch to defendant owner, who then sold it. Defendant did not ever physically possess the house in which the brooch was found, but did in fact own it. Judge awarded damages to plaintiff in amount for which brooch was sold.

Issue was ownership of the house; in this case, defendant had lack of de facto control of the house since he had never lived there. Brooch was never his.

Consistent with Bridges because ‘a man does not necessarily possess a thing lying unattached on the surface of his land,’ even if it doesn’t have an owner. Emphasizes lack of ‘real’ physical possession of the land.

Note: an owner of unoccupied land can bring a cause of action for trespass, even without ever having had actual possession. Consistent?



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