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Benjamin v. Lindner Aviation, Inc.

Supreme Court of Iowa
534 N.W.2d 400 (1995)

Benjamin v. Lindner Aviation, Inc.


State Central Bank (Bank) (defendant) repossessed an airplane and took it to Lindner Aviation, Inc. (Lindner) (defendant). Lindner employee Heath Benjamin (plaintiff) discovered approximately $18,000 concealed in the plane’s wing during inspection. The money may have been left there in the 1950s. All three parties claimed the money under Iowa’s finder’s statute. Notice was posted, but no one came forward during the statutory period. Benjamin sued for a declaratory judgment that was entitled to the money. The district court determined that the statute only applied to “lost” property and the property in question was mislaid. Thus, the court held that the money belonged to the Bank and awarded Benjamin a finder’s fee. Benjamin appealed, claiming that the statute superseded common law classifications of found property. Benjamin alternatively claimed that under common law rules, the property was a treasure trove, lost, or abandoned, and he was entitled to it as the finder. The Bank appealed, claiming that as the owner of the plane, it owned the premises where the money was found and arguing that a finder’s fee was not authorized for mislaid property. Lindner claimed in its cross-appeal that as owner of the hangar, it owned the premises where the money was found or, alternately, that as Benjamin’s employer, it was the finder of the money.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Ternus, J.)

Dissent (Snell, J.)

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