Case 47.1 Estray Statute: Willsmore V. Township of Oceola, Michigan

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CASE 47.1 Estray Statute: Willsmore v. Township of Oceola, Michigan

Latarsha Hill

GM 597: Business Law

June 10, 2012

Professor Rylan Martin

The following is a summary of the Willsmore v. the Township of Oceola, Michigan case. One day while hunting the woods, Duane Willsmore found a suitcase. He reported his finding to the police. Him and the police opened the suitcase and found $383,840. The police took custody of the money and deposited it into an interest bearing account. The Michigan’s Lost Goods Act provides that the finder and the township must share the value if finder published notice and no true claim made within one year. Duane Willsmore published the required notice and sought a judgment determining ownership of the money in his favor. However, Thomas Powell, the landowner where the suitcase was found, had claimed ownership but stated the incorrect amount of money. The trial court awarded the money to Duane Willsmore and the Township of Oceola, Michigan.


Duane Willsmore is the plaintiff, counter-defendant, appellee and cross-appellant. Duane Willsmore is the finder of the suitcase. The Township of Oceola is the defendant, cross-plaintiff, appellee, and cross-appellee. The Township of Oceola is the claimant under the provisions of Michigan’s Lost Goods Act. Thomas Powell is defendant, counter-plaintiff, appellant, and cross-appellee. Thomas Powell is owner of the land that the suitcase was found on and he is also claiming that he is the "true owner" of the money.


Here are the facts related to the case prior to the trial. While hunting on an unposted and unoccupied property in the Township of Oceola, Duane Willsmore noticed an area with branches arranged in a crisscross pattern. When he removed the branches and sod, he found a suitcase in a freshly dug hole. Duane called the Michigan State Police about his findings. A state policeman and Duane open the suitcase and found $383,840. The state policeman took custody of the money,...