Terry v. Lock

343 Ark. 452, 37 S.W.3d 202 (2001)

 

RULE:

A finder of mislaid property acquires no ownership rights in it, and, where such property is found upon another's premises, he has no right to its possession, but is required to turn it over to the owner of the premises. This is true whether the finder is an employee or occupier of the premises on which the mislaid article is found or a customer of the owner or occupant.

FACTS:

Appellants were hired by appellee to remodel a motel. As appellants were removing sheet rock, ceiling tiles, and other material in preparation for the renovations, they discovered a box above a ceiling tile containing a large amount of old currency. The box was given to appellee. Later, appellants filed a motion for a restraining order in the chancery court to prevent appellee from spending the money and claiming superior rights in the property. Appellants challenged the order of the chancery court characterizing found money as mislaid property and that appellee, as the owner of the premises where the money was discovered, held a superior interest in the money to that of appellants as finders of the money. The appellate court affirmed the judgment.

ISSUE:

Did the chancery court err in characterizing the money found by appellants while doing renovations in the property of appellee as "mislaid" property and in holding that appellee had superior interest in it?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

"Mislaid property" referred to property intentionally put into a certain place and later forgotten. The place where money or property was found was an important factor in the determination of the question of whether it was lost or only mislaid. The right of possession, as against all except the true owner, was in the owner or occupant of the premises where the property was discovered, for mislaid property was presumed to have been left in the custody of the owner or occupier of the premises upon which it was found. Accordingly, the chancery court did not err when it found that the property in the present case was mislaid property and as such belonged to the owner of the premises in which the money was found.

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