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Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed.

What is CLAIM, N 1

A challenge of the property or ownership of a thing which is wrongfully withheld from the possession of the claimant. Stowell v. Zouali, Plowd. 359; Robinson v. Wiley, 15 N. Y. 491; Fordyce v. Godman, 20 Ohio St. 14; Douglas v. Beasley, 40 Ala. 147; Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 16 Pet. 615, 10 L. Ed. 1060; U. S. v. Rhodes (C. C.) 30 Fed. 433; Silliman v. Eddy, 8 How. Prac. (N. Y.) 123. A claim is a right or title, actual or supposed, to a debt, privilege, or other thing in the possession of another; not the possession, but the means by or through which the claimant obtains the possession or enjoyment. Lawrence v. Miller, 2 N. Y. 245, 254. A claim is, in a just, juridical sense, a demand of some matter as of right made by one person upon another, to do or to forbear to do some act or thing as a matter of duty. A more limited, but at the same time an equally expressive, definition was given by Lord Dyer, that “a claim is a challenge by a man of the propriety or ownership of a thing, which he has not in possession, but which is wrongfully detained from him.” Prigg v. Pennsylvania, 16 Pet. 615, 10 L. Ed. 1060. “Claim” has generally been defined as a demand for a thing, the ownership of which, or an interest in which, is in the claimant, but the possession of which is wrongfully withheld by another. But a broader meaning must be accorded to it. A demand for damages for criminal conversation with plaintiff’s wife is a claim ; but it would be doing violence to language to say that such damages are property of plaintiff which defendant withholds. In common parlance the noun “claim” means an assertion, a pretension; and the verb is often used (not quite correctly) as a synonym for “state.” “urge,” “insist,” or “assert.” In a statute authorizing the courts to order a bill of particulars of the “claim” of either party, “claim” is co-extensive with “case,” and embraces all causes of action and all grounds of defense, the pleas of both parties, and pleas in confession and avoidance, no less than complaints and counter-claims. It warrants the court in requiring a defendant who justifies in a libel suit to furnish particulars of the facts relied upon in justification. Orvis v. Jennings, 6 Daly (N. Y.) 446. 2. Under the mechanic’s lien law of Pennsylvania, a demand put on record by a mechanic or material-man against a building for work or material contributed to its erection is called a “claim.” 3. Under the land laws of the United States, the tract of land taken up by a preemptioner or other settler (and also his possession of the same) is called a “claim.” Railroad Co. v. Abiuk, 14 Neb. 95, 15 N. W. 317; Bowman v. Torr. 3 Iowa. 573. 4. In patent law, the claim is the specification by the applicant for a patent of the particular things in which he insists his Invention is novel and patentable; it is the clause in the application in which the applicant defines precisely what his invention is. White v. Dunbar, 119 U. S. 47, 7 Sup. Ct. 72, 30 L. Ed. 303; Brammer v. Schroeder, 106 Fed. 930, 46 C. C. A. 41.


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