Property I, Pages 132–138

Benjamin v. Lidner Aviation, Inc.

Supreme Court of Iowa, 1995

Facts:

Plaintiff found $18,000 in defendant's plane while repairing it. The money was from the 40s or 50s and was carefully wrapped and inserted into the wing.

Procedural History:

Trial court found it was mislaid and hence belonged to the bank.

Issue:

What rights does the finder of property mislaid forty years ago have?

Rules:

  • Property is mislaid when it is voluntarily put somewhere and the owner forgets where it is. Mislaid property is given to the owner of the premises where it was found against all but the true owner.

  • Property is abandoned when the owner no longer wants to possess it. Abandoned property belongs to the finder against all others, including the original owner.

Reasoning:

Money was carefully prepared. It may have been old, but not enough that the owner couldn't be alive. It's a lot of money, so the true owner may still have property interests.

Holding:

The finder gets no property right. The owner of the premises gets possessory rights. Affirmed.

Dissenting Opinion:

Snell: It is hard to forget that one put $18,000 in an airplane wing. It was instead intentionally abandoned and should be awarded to the plaintiff.

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