Confusion of Goods


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Confusion of Goods

A blending together of property individually owned by two or more people so as to make it impossible to distinguish who owns what.

A confusion of goods results when the property belonging to two or more persons becomes so intermixed that it can only be identified as a large mass of goods. This might apply to such substances as oil or grain.

Generally, a wrongful, willful, or fraudulent intermingling of goods by an individual with the goods of another person results in Forfeiture to the other person of all rights and interest in the resulting mixture.

CONFUSION OF GOODS. This takes place where the goods of two or more persons become mixed together so that they cannot be separated. There is a difference between confusion and commixtion; in the former it is impossible, while in the latter it is possible, to make a separation. Bowy. Comm. 88.
     2. When the confusion takes place by the mutual consent of the owners, they have an interest in the mixture in proportion to their respective shares. 2 Bl. Com. 405; 6 Hill, N. Y. Rep. 425. But if one willfully mixes his money, corn or hay, with that of another man, without his approbation or knowledge, the law, to guard against fraud, gives the entire property without any account, to him whose original dominion is invaded land endeavored to be rendered uncertain, without his consent. Ib.; and see 2 Johns. Ch. It. 62 2 Kent's Comm. 297.
     3. There may be a case neither of consent nor of willfulness, in the confusion of goods; as where a bailee by negligence or unskillfulness, or inadvertence, mixes up his own goods of the same sort with those bailed; and there may be a confusion arising from accident and unavoidable casualty. Now, in the latter case of accidental intermixture, the rule, following the civil law, which deemed the property to be held in common, might be adopted; and it would make no difference whether the mixture produced a thing of the same sort or not; as, if the wine of two persons were mixed by accident. See Dane's Abr. ch. 76, art. 5, Sec. 19.
     4. But in cases of mixture by unskilfulness, negligence, or inadvertence, the true principle seems to be, that if a man having undertaken to keep the property of another distinct from, mixes it with his own, the whole must, both at law and in equity, be taken to be the property of the other, until the former puts the subject under such circumstances, that it may be distinguished as satisfactorily as it might have been before the unauthorized mixture on his part. 15 Ves. 432, 436, 439, 440; 2 John. Ch. R. 62; Story on Bailm. c. l, Sec. 40. And see 7 Mass. 11. 123; Dane's Abr. c. 76, art. 3, Sec. 15; Com. Dig. Pleader, 3 M 28; Bac. Ab. Trespass, E 2; 2 Campb. 576; 2 Roll. 566, 1, 15 2 Bul. 323. 2 Cro. 366, 2 Roll. 393; 5 East, 7; 21 Pick. R. 298.