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  1. #1
    us
    Dec 2004
    Troy X5
    7,130
    8 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Man finds fortune in wall

    All animals are equal, but some are more equal then others. -George Orwell

  2. #2

    Nov 2007
    Central Ohio
    12

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    I think it should belong to the home owner - he was contracted to do a job - THAT's why he was even there. He has no legal or morla right to anything in the home; he is performing a service. I think the owners were generous to offer the 10%. After this if I was the owners. . . I'd give him NOTHING!!! -0- What do you all think?

    He found $182,000 -- in her bathroom. Who gets the cash?
    Posted by Jim Nichols December 11, 2007 17:16PM

    Bob Kitts/Special to The Plain Dealer
    When Bob Kitts and Amanda Reece first tallied the 70-year-old currency that Kitts found hidden in Reece's bathroom walls, they were gleeful. Now, they're feuding.Most folks are happy to reach into the pocket of a little-used jacket and find a long-forgotten $10 bill.
    Multiply that feeling by 18,200 times and you will understand how Lakewood home-improvement contractor Bob Kitts felt when he pulled a giant cache of Depression-era cash from the walls of an 83-year-old Cleveland home he was rehabilitating.

    As he was ripping plaster from bathroom-wall studs, Kitts found bundles of bills totaling $182,000 wrapped in pre-World War II Plain Dealer news pages and tucked into boxes. The money is in such good condition, and some of the bills are so rare and collectible, that one currency appraiser valued the treasure at up to $500,000, Kitts said.

    But there's a hitch:

    The walls from which Kitts pulled the money aren't his walls. The house isn't his house. Nobody knows for certain whose money it is.

    Yet Kitts claims it as his own. He and his lawyer have dusted off an obscure, centuries-old legal doctrine called "treasure trove" -- a common-law finders-keepers provision -- that they believe gives him top claim to the wealth.

    Kitts' lawyer has drafted a lawsuit that he hopes will force Amanda Reece to turn over the money she has kept, or at least share it.

    Then again, he may not be a cent to the richer. Several court rulings have established precedent that undermines the applicability of the treasure-trove doctrine under these circumstances, said Reece's lawyer, John Chambers. Reece would have accommodated Kitts, but the handyman got greedy, Chambers said. Now Reece has no intention of backing down in the face of what she considers a shakedown.

    "In fact, I look forward to asserting our position," Chambers said in an interview last week.

    It may be up to a judge to decide, said Heidi Robertson, a professor who teaches property law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. And that judge may have a challenge.

    "It's certainly not a slam-dunk," Robertson said.

    Kitts and Reece, classmates at Bay High School back in the 1980s, celebrated together one morning in May 2006. He was in his second day of gutting her bathroom when he found a box below the medicine cabinet. Inside it was $25,200 in pristine bills.

    "I almost passed out," Kitts recalled. "It was the ultimate contractor fantasy. I've ripped out walls in my house and all I ever found was steak bones."

    He called Reece. She rushed home. Flushed with excitement, they found another steel box in the wall, tied to the end of a wire nailed to a stud. In it was more than $100,000, Kitts said.

    "It was insane," he remembered. "She was in shock -- she was a wreck."

    They found two more boxes, filled with a mix of money and religious memorabilia.

    Kitts took some of the currency for an appraisal and learned that many of the $10 bills were rare 1929-series Cleveland Federal Reserve bank notes, worth about $85 each. There also were $500 bills and one $1,000 bill.

    They traced the home's Depression-era ownership to a businessman named Peter Dunne, Kitts said. The money bundles had "P. Dunne" written on them, but no sign of its origin. Dunne apparently died unmarried and childless, leaving behind a mystery -- a fortune thatwould be worth an inflation-adjusted $2.7 million in today's money.

    But the joy, friendship and contractual bonds of the former classmates dissolved like melting snow amid the heat of all that money. Now Kitts and Reece speak to each other only through their lawyers.

    Kitts accuses Reece of greedily reneging on a promise to give him a 10 percent finder's fee. Reece's lawyer says Kitts rejected that and returned with a demand -- 40 percent or he would file a lawsuit.

    "He's trying to extort funds from me by putting it in the public domain," said Reece.

    Now she worries that thieves will take crowbars to her brick home's plaster in search of more loot. Kitts already did that to other parts of Reece's home without her permission and found nothing, Chambers said.

    Ohio and most other states have no specific statute governing what happens when someone finds a once-hidden treasure, so common-law principles dating to pre-Revolutionary Great Britain come into play, said Cleveland-Marshall's Robertson.

    Amazingly, that common law has a fairly definitive "finders-keepers" bent to it.

    That's true even when the finding is done on someone else's property, as long as the finder had permission to be there, courts have established.

    That doesn't mean Kitts is clearly the winner. Unless the two sides settle, a judge or jury will need to decide whether he found money that was, in a legal sense, "lost" or "mislaid," Robertson and other lawyers say.

    Kitts asserts he found lost money, and court rulings in Ohio establish that treasure trove's "finders keepers" law does indeed apply to something that was lost, if there's no reason to believe any owner will reappear to claim it.

    But if it was absentmindedly mislaid on private property rather than lost, the owner of the property on which the discovery was made becomes the safekeeper of the lost goods, according to case law and legal texts.

    In either case, the holder must make a good-faith effort to find the original owner or heirs before cashing in.

    Kitts said it would be unfair for him to take everything.

    "I don't want to do that -- I don't agree with the law," he said. "But you've got to start somewhere.

    "For such a happy, exciting adventure," he added, "I can't believe it just went to [heck] like this."

  3. #3
    us
    Dec 2004
    Troy X5
    7,130
    8 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    personally had this happened to me
    would it have been in the news .......
    All animals are equal, but some are more equal then others. -George Orwell

  4. #4
    us
    Aug 2005
    NH
    2,285
    4 times

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    hmm...
    If I was Kitts, I'd say.........finders/keepers.
    If I was Reece I'd say.......it's mine!
    No; I'm not fickle.
    Maybe just a tad greedy, tho

    Actually, I think it's Reece's;
    but Kitts DEFINATELY should get a good chunk of change.
    When you get into a tight place and everything goes against
    you till it seems you could not hold on a minute longer,
    never give up then for that is just the place and time that
    the tide will turn.

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  5. #5
    us
    Jul 2005
    N Louisiana
    Ace 250
    2,270
    3 times

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    If I hired a man to come work on my plumbing, and while he was there he discovered the reason for the blocked line was a diamond ring or 50 $100 bills bundled up, and he discovered the "treasures" while he was unclogging the drain, would he have title to those "treasures?" Nope. It's in my house, in my plumbing line. If he walked through my dining room and "saw" my purse, could he confiscate it as "treasure found?" Nope, that's called "theft."

    Somebody finds something on my personally-currently-owned land, they have no 'right' to it. No more than if I went into their house and kidnapped their stereo/television when they are not home. Git a grip!

    If you're on someone else's property legally, you have an obligation to offer them a percentage of whatever you find. That's only good common sense and Christianity. (oh, sorry, can't mention that.) Just look up "estoppel" in a legal dictionary. It goes back to the intent of the law.

    I can tell you personally I HATE opportunistists.

    When are courts/attorneys/plain folks get a grip on these everyday problems?
    Dear Lord, lest I continue in my complacent ways, help me to remember that someone died for me today. And if there be war, help me to remember to ask and to answer "am I worth dying for?" - Eleanor Roosevelt

  6. #6
    us
    Glsfutrs

    Mar 2006
    Coinmaster 6000/Di
    94

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    Me thinks Noodle's on to something!

    What is with this guy thinkin that he's goin to call the shots while standing on another persons property !

    I do declare !!!!!

  7. #7

    Nov 2007
    Central Ohio
    12

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Glsfutrs
    Me thinks Noodle's on to something!

    What is with this guy thinkin that he's goin to call the shots while standing on another persons property !

    I do declare !!!!!

    +1

  8. #8
    us
    Sgt Jim ................................... "Prince of Pennies"

    Sep 2005
    Chillin' in the Panhandle (Leon County)
    Tesoro Cortes; Garrett GTAx 1000, Bounty Hunter Tracker 2D/707 and a pair of Tracker II models
    632
    11 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    Haven't been on here for a while; sorry for the late reply.

    This is another example of Civil Law being assinine. If you legally own the property you should own what's ON the property (unless there is some specific prior agreement or legal arrangement). When Reece purchased the property, the "ownership" of everything on the property also transferred, according to most legal precedents.

    Ohio, like many other states have no specific statute governing what happens when someone finds a once-hidden treasure, so common-law principles dating to back to pre-Revolutionary Great Britain are often cited. But this precedent involves "lost" items
    (as long as the finder has permission to be on the property), not something merely "hidden" or "mislaid" (includes forgotten). In
    the latter case, the property owner is the rightful "safe-keeper". But the court decisions have been contradictory, even misinterpreting prior decisions they claim to rely upon. Personally, I think since he was "contracted" (bought and paid for) to do work for her then he has no claim since this would legally establish the situation where SHE was doing the work through him and thusly 'found' the valuables herself by proxy.

    There could be a new wrinkle to the story though, because the Treasure Act of 1996 was effected 24 September 1997 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, replacing the "common law of treasure trove". One of the conditions for something to be considered "treasure" now requires that the owners cannot be traced or identified........................ If they are citing UK law, will this change be a factor? The 'owner' of the items is apparently former Depression-era owner of the home, Peter Dunne. The bundles of money had "P. Dunne" written on them. Mr. Dunne died, never having been married and apparently childless. The 'fortune' in question is valued at over two million dollars.

    Reece said she offered Kitts 10% but he wanted 40%................ Reece also said Kitts damaged other areas of the house looking for more valuables WITHOUT her permission...................

    The obvious problem here is that contractors and other "hired" laborers may take note if the decision goes against Kitts and just keep whatever they find in similar circumstances instead of "sharing" it with the owner...............

    They'll probably spend a lot of money on legal expenses anyway............ so it looks like lawyers (and the IRS of course) might get more of the "treasure" than the two principals........ They can get paid no matter who wins............. I'm apparently in the wrong part of the 'legal' profession.............


    We are slaves of the law so that we might be free. -Cicero



    THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WAS NOT A CURE FOR AMERICA'S PROBLEMS, IT WAS A SYMPTOM OF THE DISEASE!!!!

  9. #9
    us
    Apr 2007
    kentucky
    white xlt
    31

    Re: Man finds fortune in wall

    I BOUGHT A HOME FROM AN ESTATE AND THE CONTRACT READ ALL PROPERTY AND RIGHTS BELONGS TO THE NEW OWNER BECAUSE MANY THINGS WERE LEFT IN THE HOUSE AND WE BOUGHT IT AS IS--OF COURSE IT HAD BEEN LEFT UNGUARDED MANY YEARS AND WE FOUND NOTHING OF VALUE BUT IF I TEAR OUT A WALL SOME DAY AND FIND SOMETHING ITS MINE--MY AUNT BOUGHT THE SAME WAY AND SHE DID FIND OIL PAINTINGS IN THE WALLS AND IF HER KIDS HAVE AN ESTATE SALE I'M GOING TO BID

 

 

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