Barker v. Bates
Massachusetts Supreme Court
30 Mass. 255 (1832)
A piece of timber washed up on the shore of Benjamin Barker’s (plaintiff’s) property. The timber looked like it had either been thrown overboard or washed out of a ship in distress, but the owner never reclaimed it. Simeon Bates and others (defendants) came on Barker’s land without his permission, found the timber, marked it as theirs, then took it and used it for their own purposes. Barker sued to recover the value of the timber, asserting he had superior ownership rights because it was on his land and Bates found it while trespassing. Bates countered that he had finder’s rights to the timber. Neither party claimed any title except by possession.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Shaw, C.J.)
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