Tuesday, November 02, 2010

unjust enrichment - not applic. where there is express contract

Wayne Moving and Storage v. School District of Philadelphia - October 28, 2010 - 3d Circuit Court of Appeals

http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/093890p.pdf

In Wilson Area School District v. Skepton, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that parties to a contract "are not entitled to the remedies available under a judicially-imposed quasi[-]contract [i.e., the parties are not entitled to restitution based upon the doctrine of unjust enrichment] because the terms of their agreement (express and implied) define their respective rights, duties, and expectations." 895 A.2d 1250, 1254 (Pa. 2006) (modifications in original) (quoting Curley v. Allstate Ins. Co., 289 F. Supp. 2d 614, 620 (E.D. Pa. 2003)); see also In re Penn Cent. Transp. Co., 831 F.2d 1221, 1230 (3d Cir. 1987) (holding that a party cannot assert a claim of unjust enrichment "if there is an express contract on the same subject").

equitable estoppel - application against the state

Wayne Moving and Storage v. School District of Philadelphia - October 28, 2010 - 3d Circuit Court of Appeals

http://www.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/093890p.pdf


Under Pennsylvania law, equitable estoppel consists of three elements: "1) misleading words, conduct, or silence by the party against whom the estoppel is asserted; 2) unambiguous proof of reasonable reliance upon the misrepresentation by the party asserting estoppel; and 3) the lack of a duty to inquire on the party asserting the estoppel." Chester Extended Care Ctr. v. Pennsylvania Dep’t of Pub. Welfare, 586 A.2d 379, 382 (Pa. 1991).


Equitable estoppel can be applied against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or its subdivisions. Wayne Moving, 2008 WL 65611, at *8; see, e.g., Chester Extended Care Ctr., 586 A.2d at 382 ("The doctrine of estoppel is an equitable remedy that may be asserted against the government in this jurisdiction.").


However, the Commonwealth or its subdivisions and instrumentalities cannot be estopped „by the acts of its agents and employees if those acts are outside the agent‟s powers, in violation of positive law, or acts which require legislative or executive action.‟" Cent. Storage & Transfer Co. v. Kaplan, 410 A.2d 292, 294 (Pa. 1980) (quoting Kellams v. Pub. Sch. Emp. Ret. Bd., 403 A.2d 1315, 1318 (Pa. 1979)).


The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania resolved the tension between these principles in holding that "[a]lthough it is the general rule that estoppel against the government will not lie where the acts of its agents are in violation of positive law, . . . this rule cannot be slavishly applied where doing so would result in a fundamental injustice." Chester Extended Care Ctr., 586 A.2d at 383 (citation omitted).

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