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Property Keyed to Saxer
Benjamin v. Lindner Aviation, Inc.
Citation:534 N.W.2d 400 (Iowa 1995)
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- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
The Bank owned a plane that it acquired through repossession from its prior owner. In 1992, the bank took the plane to Lindner Aviation for its annual inspection. Benjamin worked for Lindner and performed the inspection. As part of the inspection, Benjamin removed panels from the airplane’s wing. Inside the wing, Benjamin found paper currency totaling over $18,000. The money appeared to have been concealed in the wing for quite some time. The bills were minted before 1960 and smelled musty. Additionally, the bolts for the panel under which the money was found were rusty indicating, in Benjamin’s opinion that they hadn’t been removed for several years. Benjamin took the currency to his supervisor and offered to split the money with him. The supervisor, however, reported the discovery to the owner of Lindner Aviation. The money was eventually turned over to the local police department.
Two days later, Benjamin filed an affidavit with the county auditor claiming that he was the “finder” of the currency under Iowa Code chapter 644. Lindner Aviation and the bank also filed claims to the money. Under chapter 644, if the true owner does not claim the property in twelve months, the right to the property vests in the “finder. When no one came forward within the statutory time frame, Benjamin filed a declaratory judgment action against Lindner and the Bank seeking to establish his right to the money.
The district court held that chapter 644 applies only to lost property and that the property here was mislaid property, governed under the common law. Accordingly, the court awarded the money to the Bank.
Benjamin appealed claiming that chapter 644 governs the disposition of all found property and that any common-law distinctions between various types of found property are no longer valid. Thus, the “finder” is entitled to the money in accordance with chapter 644. Alternatively, he argued that if such distinctions are still valid then the property is properly characterized as treasure trove at common law thus entitling the finder to the money.
Linder cross-appealed arguing that if the money was mislaid property, then it was entitled to the money as the owner of the premises, i.e., hanger, on which the money was found. It argued in the alternative that it is the “finder” under chapter 644, not Benjamin, because Benjamin discovered the money during the course and scope of his work for Lindner.
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