Case Name: Popov v. Hayashi
Citation: 2002 WL 31833731 (Cal. Super. Ct. 2002)
Issue: Whether the defendant is liable for conversion when he picked up the home run ball that was dropped by the plaintiff.
Key Facts: Barry Bonds 73rd Homerun. The plaintiff caught the ball in the upper portion of his glove but was tackled and thrown to the ground by the crowd. The ball fell out and the defendant picked it up and put it in his pocket. The plaintiff sued for conversion.
Holding: The plaintiff and defendant had equitable claims and could not prove their case either way.
Reasoning: Although the plaintiff proved intent to possess the ball, he could not establish that he would have fully possessed the ball had he not been tackled by the crowd. If he could have established this, his pre-possessory interest would have constituted a qualified right to possession which can support a cause of action for conversion.
Judgment: The ball was sold for $450,000 and the proceeds were divided equally.