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Under Missouri Law, the trunk was still yours. Your sister agreed to store it for you, and under the law, she would not get any proprietary interest in it. If your sister could no longer store your trunk, she would have a legal obligation to inform you in writing that she would no longer store your trunk and give you thirty days to go and retrieve the trunk.
What you have here under the law is a "Bailment" where an individual holds the property of another. When you go to a restaurant and leave your coat with an employee who gives you a "claim check", but because you pay to check your coat, it is a "Bailment for Hire" which means that they must exercise a reasonable amount of care in protecting your coat. In a Bailment where the owner does not pay the individual anything for storing their property, they only have to exercise "slight" care in protecting the property. Therefore, you probably could not collect the value of the book from your sister, but since you know that her son took it, you can sue him for the value of the book. Kindly rate my service to you so that I can receive credit for researching your question and furnishing you with an Answer and what recourse you have. It will not cost you anything additional, but, without a rating, I will not receive any credit for assisting you. Thank you for understanding,
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You should visit the Museum first to see if they have the book. If the book is in their possession, ask to speak to the Curator of the Museum, tell him or her what happened and that the person who donated the book did not have own the book and it was not his to give, sell, or donate it to anyone. Actually, they should be reasonable because they do not want to deal in stolen property.
If the Museum's Curator is not reasonable, you could go to all the newspapers with your story and try to get it back through casting the Museum in a bad light. Then, if that does not work, then your only option is to file a lawsuit against the Museum. If you reach the point where you have to file a lawsuit, I would strongly recommend retaining an attorney to handle the lawsuit. You do not want to have gone through all that you are going through to reach that point only to lose the book on a legal technicality.
For the sake of argument assume that I have retained you as my attorney, met with you in person and presented you with the same information about this situation,.Would you, as my attorney, consider what I have told you enough information to write a letter to either my nephew or the museum or both, threatening legal action, based on Missouri law, if the book is not returned to its rightful owner. I want to make sure, if legal action becomes necessary, that an attorney would take the case based on the information I gave you.
The museum accepted this book in good faith, so is the museum still accountable for accepting this rare book since it did not belong to the donor? Obviously, since Mr. Turner has, for more than 15 years, lied about what had happened to the book, he clearly knew that he had no legal right to take the book and donate it.
I have talked to a couple of friends about this situation, and they don't seem to understand that even if this is "only a book", to me it is a family heirloom and, as such, whether or not to donate it to the museum sh
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