Pierson v. Post Case Brief

The case of Pierson v Post is an early and popular American lawsuit from the State of New York. This case was connected with an accident that occurred in 1805 on an uninhabited beach that was located not far from Southampton, New York, on the south-east coast of Long Island.

The Pierson v. Post case in American history is one of the most famous law on property rights. Despite the fact that the matter concerned only the dispute about which of the two men deserved the right to own a fox, to resolve the dispute it was necessary to determine at what point this animal becomes a "property". Proceeding from the fact that there were no outstanding American precedents on this issue, the judges had to synthesize arguments from a number of well-known historical legal treatises starting from the institutions of Justinian in the V century to the works of Henry de Bracton in the 13th century and Samuel von Pufendorf in the 17th century. Judges decided that the identification of the legal possession of an animal is related to the essence of the human concept of “property”. That's why the case of Pierson vs. Post is included in almost all Anglo-American cash books.

The Pierson v Post case brief: On December 10, 1802, a fox hunter and a local man named Lodowick Post, was hunting for a fox. His hunting dogs caught the scent of a fox and began to pursue it. When the dogs and the hunter approached the fox, Jesse Pearson, another local resident, also saw this fox. However, he categorically denied that he had seen Post and his dogs. Meanwhile, Pearson came across this fox, knowing that another hunter pursued her, killed her and took her. Based on this, Post decided to sue Pearson. His lawsuit was based on the fact that Pearson violated the right of possession of his fox and claimed damage to it. The Post claimed that he had the right to own this fox since he was hunting for her. On this basis, the court of the first instance declared a decision in favor of the ownership of Post.

The court held that wild animals could become property when the pursuer was within reach or had a reasonable view of obtaining physical possession. Since such a wild animal as a fox bears trouble for society, their killing is seen as an act for the public good. However, Pearson was not pleased with this decision and immediately appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of New York, which reversed the decision of justice and ruled in favor of Pearson. The court decided that the actions of the Post were merely a persecution of the fox. This action could not guarantee him any future possession of the fox, in addition to that, he did not fatally wound the fox. Based on this reason, the court decided that Pearson became the legal owner at the time when he seized the fox and took possession of it.

After the trial of the appeal, the issue was considered in the Supreme Court of Justice of New York, whether it is possible to obtain ownership of a wild animal. The New York Court of Appeals stated that the pursuit of a wild animal does not impose any ownership rights on the hunter. Proceeding from this, the court said that in order to obtain the property rights of the hunter, he must first establish occupancy, namely on the fox in this case, through persecution and hunting. This case in the Supreme Court was heard by Chief Justice James Kent. After one of the country's eminent jurists, as well as associate judges Daniel Tompkins and Henry Brock hold Livingston.