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Property which is found embedded in the soil under circumstances repelling the idea that it has been lost is held to have the characteristics of mislaid property. The finder acquires no rights thereto, for the presumption is that possession of the article found is in the owner of the locus in quo, and, accordingly it is held that the right to possession of such property is in the landowner.
Plaintiff found money in a jar while working on defendant's property. Plaintiff sued for the possession of the money claiming it was lost. The case was submitted to the jury, which determined that the property was mislaid. Judgment was entered for defendant as bailee for the true owner. The appellate court reversed and found for plaintiff under the doctrine of treasure trove. Defendant appealed.
Was the plaintiff entitled to the money under the doctrine of treasure trove?
The court reversed the judgment for the plaintiff, holding that the treasure trove doctrine had not been recognized in Texas, and that the principles behind the doctrine had merged with the law of lost goods. The court found that the property was mislaid because it was specifically placed in a glass jar and buried in the ground. It had appeared that the true owner had intentionally placed it there and had forgotten about it. Therefore, defendant should have been awarded possession as bailee for the true owner.