Conti v ASPCA

Facts

The plaintiff acquired a distinctive parrot which the defendant asserted had escaped from its cage. The defendant retrieved the parrot from the defendant, claiming ownership, and the plaintiff sued for its return (action in replevin).

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Issues

How do you determine the identity of an animal? Is the true owner of lost property entitled to its return? Does this change when dealing with a wild animal?

Holding

The court found that the parrot was indeed the lost parrot and dismissed.

Reasoning

The court made a finding of fact, on evidence, that the parrot was indeed the same as the one which escaped from the Defendant. An owner of lost property is entitled to its return. However, in dealing with a wild animal (ferae naturae), the loss of the property extinguishes the property rights of the original owner. In this case, the parrot was held to be domesticated, not wild, and so its return was right and the plaintiff’s action was without merit.

 

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