Facts: P gathered manure on a public highway into heaps with the intent to take it the
next day to his home. Before he could do that, D came and took the manure. Neither had
permission to take the manure, but it was agreed that removal was beneficial to the
community. P claimed the manure was abandoned private property and became the
property of the first possessor, which was him. D claims the manure was real property
and belonged to the owner of the fee of the highway, and if it was personal property, P
also abandoned it by not taking it immediately. Trial court found for D.
Issue: Is manure, scattered on the ground on a public highway real property or private
property? If it is private property, does it belong to the owner of the fee or to the
possessor who heaped it or he who actually removed it?
Holding: Reversed. P should be given a reasonable amount of time to remove the
manure, which may have been violated by D removing it within a day’s time.
Rationale:
– The manure is personal property. It was the property of the farmer whose animals
defecated on the highway, but he immediately abandoned it. It then became the
property of the city, who owns the fee to the highway, but this is unnecessary to
take into account because the removal of the manure is of a benefit to the city.
The court believes that they should encourage people to clean up manure.
– If a person appropriates property at a place by removing it or intending to remove
it, it is his. But, if he does nothing to enhance its value or change its nature, his
right of occupancy is gone.
– P obviously enhanced the value of the manure by laboring to put it in heaps. He
should be allowed a reasonable amount of time to remove the manure, and during
this reasonable time, he has not lost occupancy rights to it. Here, a reasonable
amount of time for removal had not elapsed