Reading appellate court opinions is a hobby of mine. Not only can you stay abreast of developments in the law, but you often get insights into human nature—occasionally uplifting, but usually, perplexing.
I just read a case, handed down by the Illinois Appellate Court this month, that fell into the latter category—perplexing. Jennifer Koerner and her boyfriend, Kent Nielsen, like many young couples today, decided to take their romance to the next level by moving in together. In November, 2010, Koerner purchased a dog, Stig, from an animal shelter for $95.00. On Christmas Day, 2010, Koerner wrote a poem to Nielsen and informed him in the poem that she was making Stig a Christmas gift to Nielsen. Unfortunately for these young lovers, the embers of love cooled and in February, 2012, Nielsen and Stig moved out. During February and March 2012, emails were exchanged between Nielsen and Koerner concerning the logistics of the move out. Koerner wrote to Nielsen on more than one occasion that she and her dog, Jessie, missed Stig (I guess she no longer missed Nielsen) and urged Nielsen to “bring Stig home”. Nielsen repeatedly replied that Stig belonged to him.
In April, 2012, Koerner filed a lawsuit against Nielsen alleging that he was withholding from her personal property (Stig) that rightfully belonged to her. At trial, the court heard testimony from both sides as to the circumstances surrounding Stig’s purchase and the Christmas poem. At the conclusion of the trial, the court ruled that the burden of proving that Nielsen was wrongfully withholding personal property belonging to Koerner was with Koerner and she had not met her burden of proof. The court ruled that Nielsen was the true owner of Stig. Koerner appealed the trial court’s ruling, claiming the court had ignored evidence that Stig’s license registration was still in Koerner’s name, as was the veterinary insurance policy for Stig. Read More