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M. P. Moller, Inc. v. Wilson - 8 Cal. 2d 31, 63 P.2d 818 (1936)


Annexation by weight and gravity, therefore, is not always alone a sufficient indication of an intent to make the article a permanent fixture and part of the realty. It must also appear from the nature of the chattel that if used for the purpose for which it was designed it would naturally and necessarily be annexed to and become a permanent and integral part of some realty; in other words, that it would become essential to the ordinary and convenient use of the property to which it was annexed.


Plaintiff sued to recover the possession or the value of a pipe organ sold to one Ferguson under a conditional sale contract, which had been installed in Ferguson's former home Since the installation of the organ, the residence and lot were sold pursuant to a trust deed executed by Ferguson. Subsequently, defendants Wilson bought the residence from the purchaser under the trust deed. Ferguson had defaulted in the payments under the conditional sale contract, and had made only the down payment at the time of the sale of the residence under the trust deed. About six months after the transfer of title to the residence property to defendants,  plaintiff served a demand upon them for the possession of the organ. After the demand was not met,plaintiff filed suit. The trial court found that the organ after its installation retained its character as personal property and did not become a fixture nor a part of the realty. It found the value of the instrument to be $4,500 and rendered judgment for the plaintiff. Defendants appealed.


Was the trial court correct in finding that the organ did not become a fixture of the residence and was still personal property?




The appellate court held that it was not required that the contract be recorded in order to protect the lien of the vendor against subsequent purchasers or encumbrancers of the realty if the instrument retained its original character as personalty. The court held that the buyer had no actual notice of the claim of the seller or of the existence of the conditional sale contract at the time they purchased the residence. The court held that the trial court was justified in concluding that the facts of installation and removal did not indicate that the organ lost its inherent character of personal property such as any other furniture or musical instrument designed for personal enjoyment or entertainment and not as an essential, integral, or necessary part of real property.

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