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When a reward is offered to the general public for the performance of some specified act, such reward may be claimed by any person who performs such act, with the exception of agents, employees, and public officials who are acting within the scope of their employment or official duties.
A bankers association provided and advertised a reward of $ 1500 for the arrest and conviction of three bank robbers. The robbers were eventually arrested and convicted. There were many claimants for the reward, including: (1) appellants, a group of bank tellers who were present during the robbery and who provided the police with a description of the robbers, (2) the police officers who arrested the robbers, and (3) appellee deputy sheriff who assisted with the arrest, but was outside of his jurisdiction and under no legal duty to make the arrest. The trial court awarded the money to appellee. The present appeal followed.
Were the employees of the robbed bank and the police officers eligible to receive or share in the reward?
The court held that when a reward was offered to the general public for the performance of some specified act, such reward may be claimed by any person who performed such act, except agents, employees, and public officials who were acting within the scope of their employment or official duties. In this case, the court held that the appellants and the police officers were acting within the scope of their employment duties when the robbery and arrests occurred; thus, they were not entitled to a share in the reward. On the other hand, appellee was entitled to the reward since he had no legal duty to make an arrest when he arrested the bank robbers.