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DETINUE Definition & Legal Meaning

Definition & Citations:

In practice. A form of action which lies for the recovery, in specie, ofpersonal chattels from one who acquired possession of them lawfully, but retains itwithout right, together with damages for the detention. 3 Bl. Comm. 152. Sinnott v. Feiock,165 N. Y. 444, 59 N. E. 265, 53 L. R. A. 565, 80 Am. St. Rep. 736; Penny y. Davis, 3 B. Mon. (Ky.) 314; Guille v. Fook, 13 Or. 577, 11 Pac. 277.The action of detinue is defined in the old books as a remedy founded upon thedelivery of goods by the owner to another to keep, who afterwards refuses to redeliverthem to the bailor ; and it is said that, to authorize the maintenance of the action, it isnecessary that the defendant should have come lawfully into the possession of thechattel, either by delivery to him or by finding it In fact, it was once understood to bethe law that detinue does not lie where the property had been tortiously taken. But it is,upon principle, very unimportant in what manner the defendant’s possession commenced,since the gist of the action is the wrongful detainer, and not the originaltaking. It is only incumbent upon the plaintiff to prove property in himself, andpossession in the defendant At present, the action of detinue is proper in every casewhere the owner prefers recovering the specific property to damages for its conversion,and no regard is had to the manner in which the defendant acquired the possession.Peirce v. Hill, 9 Port. (Ala.) 151, 33 Am. Dec. 306.


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