When the right to personal property by occupancy exists, it exists no longer than the party retains the actual possession of the property, or until 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 plaintiff 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 plaintiff returned, defendant removed it. Plaintiff brought an action in trover to recover the value of the manure and the justice of the peace court and then the trial court entered judgment in favor of defendant. On appeal, the court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded the case for a new trial.
Did plaintiff lose the right to the horse manure when he ceased to retain the actual possession of it?
The court held that plaintiff acquired the manure as personal property by occupancy and retained the property for the reasonable period necessary to remove it. A reasonable time for the removal of this manure had not elapsed when the defendant seized and converted it to his own use