Contracts Law, Remedies, Latin (“as much as he deserved”).  Quantum meruit is an equitable theory of recovery based on the notion that where one renders services or provides materials to another who benefits thereby, the person performing such services or providing such materials is entitled to receive reasonable compensation for the services or materials even in the absence of an express contract requiring compensation.  Under such circumstances, a contract to pay for the services or materials is implied by law for reasons of justice and to avoid unjust enrichment to the party for whose benefit the services or materials are provided.

To succeed in quantum meruit claim, a plaintiff must establish that he or she rendered services or provided materials to defendant’s benefit such that defendant would be unjustly enriched if plaintiff were not compensated.

Quantum meruit principles do not apply, however, where there is an express agreement between the parties governing compensation. “Quantum meruit is an equitable theory which supplies, by implication and in furtherance of equity. implicitly missing contractual terms. Contractual terms regarding a subject are not implicitly missing when the parties have agreed on express terms regarding that subject. A quantum meruit analysis cannot supply ‘missing’ terms that are not missing. ‘The reason for the rule is simply that where the parties have freely, fairly and voluntarily bargained for certain benefits in exchange for undertaking certain obligations, it would be inequitable to imply a different liability….’ ” Hedging Concepts. Inc. v. First Alliance Mortgage Co., 41 Cal.App.4th 1410, 1419 (1996).  Thus, where there is an express contract between the parties governing the compensation in question, quantum meruit will not lie because the law will not imply a promise to pay the reasonable value of the services at variance with the parties’ agreement.

Reference Desk

Heldenfels Bros., Inc. v. City of Corpus Christi, 832 S.W.2d 39, 41 (Tex. 1992):

Quantum meruit is an equitable theory of recovery which is based on an implied agreement to pay for benefits received.  To recover under the doctrine of quantum meruit, a plaintiff must establish that: 1) valuable services and/or materials were furnished, 2) to the party sought to be charged, 3) which were accepted by the party sought to be charged, and 4) under such circumstances as reasonably notified the recipient that the plaintiff, in performing, expected to be paid by the recipient.

Brankline v. Capuano, 656 So.2d 1, 5 (La.App. 3d Cir. 1995):

Quantum meruit is an equitable remedy founded upon the principle that no one who benefits from the labor or materials of another should be unjustly enriched at the other’s expense. The doctrine operates in the absence of a specific contract to imply a promise on behalf of the person to whom the benefit is conferred to pay a reasonable sum for the services or materials furnished. An individual establishing his right to recover under the doctrine of quantum meruit is to recover a reasonable amount to which he is entitled. An award of damages based on quantum meruit must be established with some degree of detail and specificity

Durst v. Milroy General Contracting, Inc., 52 A.3d 357 (Pa. Sup. Ct. 2012):

Quantum meruit is an equitable remedy to provide restitution for unjust enrichment in the amount of the reasonable value of services.

Where unjust enrichment is found, the law implies a contract, which requires the defendant to pay to the plaintiff the value of the benefit conferred.  The elements necessary to prove unjust enrichment are:

(1) benefits conferred on defendant by plaintiff; (2) appreciation of such benefits by defendant; and (3) acceptance and retention of such benefits under such circumstances that it would be inequitable for defendant to retain the benefit without payment of value. (citations omitted). The application of the doctrine depends on the particular factual circumstances of the case at issue. In determining if the doctrine applies, our focus is not on the intention of the parties, but rather on whether the defendant has been unjustly enriched.

Ohio Valley Health Services & Education Corp. v. Riley, 149 F. Supp. 3d 709 (2015):

An express contract and an implied contract, relating to the same subject matter, cannot co-exist.  Phrased another way, quasi-contract claims, like unjust enrichment or quantum meruit, are unavailable when an express agreement exists because such claims only exist in the absence of an agreement. The existence of a valid and enforceable written contract governing a particular subject matter ordinarily precludes recovery in quasi contract for events arising out of the same subject matter. A “quasi contract” only applies in the absence of an express agreement, and is not really a contract at all, but rather a legal obligation imposed in order to prevent a party’s unjust enrichment. Briefly stated, a quasi-contractual obligation is one imposed by law where there has been no agreement or expression of assent, by word or act, on the part of either party involved.  A plaintiff cannot recover in quantum meruit when there is an express contract governing the goods or services at issue.

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