B-126326, FEB. 6, 1956

B-126326: Feb 6, 1956

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ARMY MAP SERVICE: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 22. IN THE ABSENCE OF STATUTORY LAW RELATING TO THE RIGHTS OF FINDERS OF LOST PROPERTY THE COURTS IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE FOLLOWED THE GENERAL RULE THAT THE TITLE AND RIGHT TO POSSESSION OF THE FINDER ARE NOT AFFECTED BY THE OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTY ON WHICH THE THING IS FOUND. 36 C.J.S. EXCEPTIONS TO SUCH RULE HAVE BEEN STATED IN CASES WHERE THE OWNER OF THE PREMISES ON WHICH THE PROPERTY IS FOUND OWES A DUTY TO THE OWNER OF THE LOST PROPERTY OR WHERE A FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP EXISTS BETWEEN THEM. SINCE THE MONEY HERE WAS FOUND ON AN ARMY INSTALLATION AT A LOCATION EVIDENTLY ACCESSABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC. NONE IS REFERRED TO IN THE SUBMISSION.

B-126326, FEB. 6, 1956

TO MR. REGINALD B. JONES, SPECIAL DISBURSING AGENT, ARMY MAP SERVICE:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 22, 1955, SUBMITTING A VOUCHER (STANDARD FORM 1034) IN FAVOR OF MR. WALTER K. FERTIG, 7914 15TH AVENUE, HYATTSVILLE, MARYLAND, FOR $91.25. THAT AMOUNT REPRESENTS THE AMOUNT OF MONEY FOUND BY HIM ON OR ABOUT APRIL 1, 1955, ON THE SOUTH PARKING LOT, IN THE VICINITY OF THE LOADING PLATFORM, ERSKINE HALL, ARMY MAP SERVICE, MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND, AND TURNED IN BY HIM TO THE GUARDS' OFFICE. IN VIEW OF THE TIME ELAPSED WITHOUT THE OWNER'S MAKING CLAIM THEREFOR MR. FERTIG, ON OCTOBER 24, 1955, ADDRESSED A LETTER TO THE SECURITY OFFICER OF THAT INSTALLATION REQUESTING THE RETURN TO HIM OF THE AMOUNT INVOLVED. YOU SAY THAT CONSIDERABLE EFFORT HAS BEEN MADE TO LOCATE THE OWNER BY ANNOUNCEMENT OVER THE PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM AND BY CANVASSING THE EMPLOYEES OF THE CAFETERIA, AND YOU REQUEST TO BE ADVISED REGARDING THE PROPRIETY OF REFUNDING THE AMOUNT TO MR. FERTIG AS PROPOSED ON THE VOUCHER.

IN THE ABSENCE OF STATUTORY LAW RELATING TO THE RIGHTS OF FINDERS OF LOST PROPERTY THE COURTS IN THE UNITED STATES HAVE FOLLOWED THE GENERAL RULE THAT THE TITLE AND RIGHT TO POSSESSION OF THE FINDER ARE NOT AFFECTED BY THE OWNERSHIP OF THE PROPERTY ON WHICH THE THING IS FOUND. 36 C.J.S. FINDING LOST GOODS, SECTION 5. EXCEPTIONS TO SUCH RULE HAVE BEEN STATED IN CASES WHERE THE OWNER OF THE PREMISES ON WHICH THE PROPERTY IS FOUND OWES A DUTY TO THE OWNER OF THE LOST PROPERTY OR WHERE A FIDUCIARY RELATIONSHIP EXISTS BETWEEN THEM. SILCOTT V. LOUISVILLE TRUST COMPANY, 265 S.W. 612. SINCE THE MONEY HERE WAS FOUND ON AN ARMY INSTALLATION AT A LOCATION EVIDENTLY ACCESSABLE TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC, AND SINCE, ALSO, THERE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE AN ADMINISTRATIVE REGULATION GOVERNING THE QUESTION PRESENTED, AND NONE IS REFERRED TO IN THE SUBMISSION, SUCH EXCEPTIONS TO THE GENERAL RULE WOULD NOT APPEAR APPLICABLE HERE.

IN THE LIGHT OF THE ABOVE, THE TIME WHICH HAS ELAPSED SINCE THE PROPERTY WAS FOUND, AND THE PUBLICITY GIVEN THE FINDING WITHOUT CLAIM HAVING BEEN MADE BY THE LOSER OF THE PROPERTY, WE WILL INTERPOSE NO OBJECTION TO THE CERTIFICATION AND PAYMENT OF THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED FOR REFUNDING THE AMOUNT TO THE FINDER, IF OTHERWISE FREE FROM OBJECTION.

SINCE THE MONEY NOW IS IN 21X6024, PERSONAL FUNDS OF DECEASED OR MISSING PERSONNEL, ARMY (T), THE AMOUNT INVOLVED MAY BE PAID OUT OF THAT APPROPRIATION, CITING THE DOCUMENTS WHEREBY THE DEPOSIT WAS MADE AND THE NATURE OF THE TRANSACTION.