Popov v. Hayashi Case Brief

Summary of Popov v. Hayashi (2002), 2002 2002 WL 31833731

Procedural history: Case is at trial court.

Facts: Both P and D attended a baseball game where Barry Bonds hit his record breaking home run. Popov reached up and his glove made contact with the ball, stopping its trajectory. A melee ensued in which Popov was thrown to the ground and lost control, or the chance at gaining, control of the ball. D, in the melee, picked up the ball and put it in his pocket, only taking it out when cameras were recording. Case is about who owns the ball, not who wronged who.

Issues: What constitutes possession under property law?

Who owns the ball, Popov or Hayashi?

Holding: They both have an equal property interest in the ball. It is to be sold and the proceeds equally divided. Court employed Gray’s definition of a caught ball, p. 78.

Rationale: Both parties have an interest since Popov was intial capturer of the ball, and Hiyashi was able to take full control of the ball because Popov dropped it. Determining that Popov was in full possession of the ball before he was attacked is impossible, and it is unfair to Hayashi to assume that he did, because Hayashi did no wrong. Determining that Hayashi had full possession and property rights in the ball was unfair to Popov because he made the first contact with the ball, and was prevented from gaining full control by circumstances outside his control.

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