Charrier v. Bell

496 So. 2d 601 (La. Ct. App. 1986)

 

RULE:

La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 3414 provides that there are five ways of acquiring property by occupancy, to wit: by hunting, by fowling, by fishing., by finding (that is, by discovering precious stones on the sea shore, or things abandoned, or a treasure.)

FACTS:

The archeologist alleged that he obtained the permission of a person, who he believed was the owner of the land, to survey the property with a metal detector for possible burial locations. The archeologist located and excavated about 30 to 40 burial plots, lying in a circular pattern. The archeologist contended that he was then advised that the purported owner was the caretaker.

ISSUE:

Does the burial of deceased with artifacts or other objects amount to an abandonment of those artifacts?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

An individual deceased is buried with objects or artifacts; their intentions are meant to serve sentimental purpose and not for taking for free. The relinquishment of possession is not equal to intent to relinquish ownership. The court affirmed the decision denying both of the archeologist's claims against Indian descendants as owner of Indian artifacts and the archeologist's request for compensation for his excavation work in uncovering those artifacts under the theory of unjust enrichment.

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