Friday, September 21, 2007

contracts - unjust enrichment/quantum meruit

Northeast Fence & Iron Works, Inc. v. Murphy Quigley Co., Inc. - Superior Ct. - Sept. 18, 2007

Plaintiff/subcontractor's judgment against defendant/general contractor for installation of fencing at county prison upheld on theory of quantum meruit/unjust enrichment, which are synonymous terms. Plaintiff finished the fence job on emergency basis when a prior subcontractor left the job incomplete.

The elements/factors in QM/unjust enrichment are

a) lack of an express contract - there was a dispute about the price in this case

b) benefit conferred on defendant - satisfaction of D's contractual obligation to 3d party

c) acceptance and retention of benefit by defendant

d) circumstances would make it inequitable or unjust to retain benefit w/o payment, the "most significant element" of the doctrine

e) QM can apply where there has been partial payment, if benefit is greater than amount paid