McAvoy v. Medina

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, 1866

11 Allen (93 Mass.) 548.


Plaintiff, a customer in a barbershop, finds a wallet on the counter.

Procedural History

Held for the defendant in the lower court.


Is there a difference between misplaced property and mislaid property?

Arguments for Both Parties

Plaintiff argues that since he found it, he gets top keep it, claiming that the property was lost and “movable”


The court affirms lower courts decision for the Defendant.

Reasoning behind Holding

The court holds for the defendant stating that the property was laid upon the table and was accidentally left there. The property has not been lost in the least bit and so the rules applying to lost property do not apply to the present case.


The property owner has a duty to preserve the true ownership of the mislaid property. To preserve it until the true owner comes to get it back. The original owner retains title to the property.

Policy Arguments

Again, this holding provides for the most efficient means for the true owner to reclaim his true ownership of property. By making sure the original owner retains title you encourage individuals not to steal.


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