Haslem v. Lockwood

37 Conn. 500 (1871)



When the right to personal property by occupancy exists, it exists no longer than the party retains the actual possession of the property, or till he appropriates it to his own use by removing it to some other place. If he leaves the property at the place where it was discovered, and does nothing whatsoever to enhance its value or change its nature, his right by occupancy is unquestionably gone. 


After Haslem found horse manure scattered on a public highway, he hired workers to collect it and left it gathered in piles on the public road overnight in order to remove it the next morning. Before Haslem returned, Lockwood removed it. Haslem brought an action in trover to recover the value of the manure. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Lockwood. 


In this action in trover to recover for the value of manure that had been collected into piles, did Haslem, as the collector who planned to return to pick it up, acquire the manure as a personal property?




The appellate court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for a new trial. The Court held that Haslem acquired the manure as personal property by occupancy and retained the property for the reasonable period necessary to remove it. The facts of the case showed a sufficient right in plaintiff Haslem to the immediate possession of the property as against a mere wrong doer. A reasonable time for the removal of this manure had not elapsed when defendant Lockwood seized and converted it to his own use. 

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