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    Federal vs. Private Property

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    Finders Weepers, Losers Keepers
    The News Journal, July 20, 2000.

    In 1943, During World War II, a Navy TBD-1 Devastator crashed eight miles of the coast of Florida. The entire crew survived and there is no indication that any efforts were made to locate the plane by the Navy. Collector Doug Champlin, the owner of an airplane museum in Arizona, spent approximately $130,000.00 to recover the plane. The problem has to do with ownership. He claims to be the owner of the lost/abandoned plane. The Navy claims ownership and wants to put the plane in the National Museum of Naval Aviation at Pensacola, Naval Air Station. The TBD-1 Devastator has significant historical value as no Devastators survived the war.

    The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that only Congress can order the abandonment of federal property. Hence the Navy owns the plane. Mr. Champlin doesn't mind giving the plane back to the Navy; he just wants to be reimbursed. The Navy is hesitant to pay and Mr. Champlin is considering an appeal to the Supreme Court.

    Putting aside the fact that this plane is federal property, is this plane lost, misplaced, or abandoned?

    Should the federal government have special rules, or should federal property be subject to the same laws/rules/regulations as private property? Why or why not?

    Do you think that Mr. Champlin should have consulted with the Navy before spending his time and money on this project? Should he (or the general public for that matter) have known about this special rule regarding federal property? Consider whether there should be a time limit or statute of limitations regarding the forfeiture or non-forfeiture of title. Also, consider whether property should be considered lost or abandoned by the failure to protect or attempt recovery of the property.

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    Solution Preview

    Under the common law, there are 4 categories of found property:
    1. Abandoned property - property that the owner has voluntarily relinquished rights to. Abandoned property that is found belongs to the finder.
    2. Lost property - Property is lost when the owner unintentionally and involuntarily parts with its possession and does not know where it is. Lost property that is found belongs to the finder.
    3. Mislaid property - Mislaid property is voluntarily put in a certain place by the owner who then forgets or overlooks where the property is. The right of possession belongs to the owner of the premises where the property was found against all but the true owner. The finder has no property rights.
    4. Treasure Trove - Property that was concealed by the owner for such a length of time that the owner is ...

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    This solution is comprised of a detailed explanation to answer the request of the assignment of more than 700 words of text.