Popov v Hayashi...
Popov v. Hayashi Rule: When a person completes a significant portion of the steps to achieve possession of an item, but is thwarted due to the unlawful conduct of another, that person is entitled to a pre-possessory interest of the item. Babe Ruth set the Major League Baseball home run record in 1927 with 60 home runs in a season. Roger Maris broke that record in 1961, hitting 61 home runs. Mark McGwire topped Maris in 1998 with 70 home runs. In 2001, Barry Bonds broke McGwire's record. Toward the end of the 2001 season, Barry Bonds was expected to break his own record, and fans began to congregate in the areas where he was most likely to hit a home run. On October 7, 2001, Bonds hit his 73rd home run. In the stands that day were Alex Popov (plaintiff) and Patrick Hayashi (defendant). As the ball reached the stands, Popov was able to make contact with the ball through his glove. As the ball entered the glove, Popov was attacked by those surrounding him, dislodging the ball. Hayashi was not involved in this attack. The ball then rolled to Hayashi, who placed it in his pocket until he was escorted by security to a secure area in the stadium. Popov brought a suit against Hayashi for ownership of the ball. Is a person entitled to an interest in a piece of property if they achieve significant steps towards possessing said property, but are thwarted due to the unlawful conduct of another? (McCarthy, J.)Yes. Popov and Hayashi both have an equal, undivided interest in the ball, because Popov acquired pre-possessory rights when he was attacked while catching said ball. When a person completes a significant portion of the steps to achieve possession of an item, but is thwarted due to the unlawful conduct of another, that person is entitled to a pre-possessory interest of the item. In this case, Popov had exerted some control over the ball, but had not yet acquired possession. It is unknown if he would have acquired possession, because he was attacked by the fans seated around him. It would be inappropriate to create an incentive for such attacks to take place. Thus, in this situation, Popov is deemed to have acquired a pre-possessory interest in the ball. Because Hayashi was not involved with the mob that attacked Popov, both Popo v and Hayashi have an equal, undivided interest in the ball. Van Valkenburgh v. Lutz Rule: A party takes adverse possession of a property owned by another when he takes actual possession of it, encloses it and/or makes improvements to it, for statutory period of years. The Lutz family (defendant) bought Lots 14 and 15 in Yonkers in 1912. Between then and 1947, they accessed their property by cutting across Lots 19-22 (collectively, Lot 19). Over time, Lutz built a structure and started a gardening business on Lot 19, which he knew that he did not own. In 1947, the Van Valkenburgh family, with whom the Lutzes did not get along, purchased Lots 19-22 and demanded that Lutz remove his structures and garden from Lot 19. Lutz agreed to do so, but claimed that his family should be permitted continuing use of the path through Lot 19 to access his property. He then removed some of the structures from the land. Van Valkenburgh erected a fence blocking the path that Lutz had claimed a right to use. Lutz sued Van Valkenburgh, arguing that while Van Valkenburgh owned the land, he (Lutz) had established a right of way through it. The court ruled in Lutz’s favor, holding that Lutz had the right to use the path. The court of appeals affirmed. Van
Valkenburgh later sued Lutz, complaining that the rem ainder of Lutz’s structures (a garage and a shed) infringed upon his land. Lutz generally denied the allegations, and additionally filed a counterclaim asserting that he owned the land claimed by Van Valkenburgh by virtue of having adversely possessed it for more than thirty years. The trial judge agreed with Lutz and held that Lutz had acquired title to the land by adverse possession. The intermediate appeals court affirmed, and Van Valkenburgh appealed. May a person claim adverse possession of real property that he knows he does not own by using and erecting structures on the property? (Dye, J.) No. In order to establish adverse possession in New York, the claimant must occupy the land “under claim of title” for fifteen years. Lutz admitted that he knew t hat he did own the land on which he built a small shed. He also admitted that, having not taken a survey of the land, he thought that the garage he built was actually on his land. The circumstances were not enough to hold that Lutz did anything to the land “under claim of title,” which the court defined to mean “hostile” to its true owners. Additionally, Lutz had asserted in previous litigation that Van Valkenburgh in fact owned the property, and secured a judgment in his favor based in part on that assertion; he cannot in subsequent litigation disavow that admission. The judgment of the trial court is reversed, and Lutz’s counterclaim is dismissed. The trial c ourt must enter judgment in Van Valkenburgh’s favor subject to the previously established right of way. Dissent (Fuld, J.) Between 1916 and 1948, Lutz worked the disputed land as a farm; the neighbors considered the land to be the property of the Lutzes; and no one else had ever asserted title to the land prior to Van Valkenburgh. This evidence should make clear that Lutz intended to claim the land as his own, thus acting “under claim of title.” The fact that Lutz knew he did not own the land is irrelevant because, despite that knowledge, he took steps to exert control over the property as his own. Lutz ’s assertion in the earlier litigation that Van Valkenburgh “owned” the land is irrelevant because Lutz’s title in the land had vested well before then, and it cannot be d isclaimed without following legal formalities.