For Industry Professionals, Managers, Trades & Suppliers
J. NORMAN STARK, ATTORNEY and REGISTERED ARCHITECT
JURIS DOCTOR, B. ARCHITECTURE, B.F.A.
17000 St. Clair Avenue . Cleveland, Ohio 44110-2535
Tel.: (216) 531-5310 . Fax: (888) 833-5860 . E-Mail: www.Normstark@aol.com
In Florida . 6500 Midnight Pass Rd. #105 . Sarasota, FL 34242 . (941) 349-2061.
QUANTUM MERUIT v. UNJUST ENRICHMENT, DISTINGUISHED
One U.S. District Court, in a construction case in Maine, clarified the important distinctions between the terms, Quantum
Meruit and Unjust Enrichment, in actions for the recovery of damages, deciding whether these terms were misstated or
".As the Law Court has explained, quantum meruit and unjust enrichment are distinct causes of action; "Quantum meruit, also
sometimes labelled `contract implied in fact,' involves recovery for services or materials provided under an implied
contract. Unjust enrichment describes recovery for the value of the benefit retained when there is no contractual
relationship, but when, on the grounds of fairness and justice, the law compels performance of a legal and moral duty to
pay, and the damages analysis is based on principles of equity, not contract." Paffhausen v. Balano, 1998 ME 47, ¶ 6, 708
A.2d 269, 271. "Damages in unjust enrichment are measured by the value of what was inequitably retained. In quantum meruit,
by contrast, the damages are not measured by the benefit realized and retained by the defendant, but rather are based on the
value of the services provided by the plaintiff." Id. ¶ 7, 708 A.2d at 271.
"A valid claim in quantum meruit requires: that
Id. ¶ 8, 708 A.2d at 271. "While the formalities of an express contract are not a prerequisite to recovery in quantum meruit,
there must be a reasonable expectation on the part of the claimant to receive compensation for his services and a concurrent
intention of the other party to compensate him." Id. ¶ 9, 708 A.2d at 272.
- services were rendered to the defendant by the plaintiff;
- with the knowledge and consent of the defendant; and
- under circumstances that make it reasonable for the plaintiff to expect payment."
"To establish a claim for unjust enrichment, three elements must be proved:
Bowden v. Grindle, 651 A.2d 347, 350-51 (Me.1994).
- a benefit conferred upon the defendant by the plaintiff;
- an appreciation or knowledge by the defendant of the benefit; and
- the acceptance or retention by the defendant of the benefit under such circumstances as to make it inequitable for the defendant to retain the benefit
without payment of its value."
JAY CASHMAN, INC. v. PORTLAND PIPE LINE CORP., 559 F.Supp.2d 85 (D. Me. 2008).
An Ohio Court distinguished these terms in another manner: "An action for unjust enrichment, or quantum meruit, is for the
value of services rendered. National City Bank v. Fleming (1981), 2 Ohio App. 3d 50, 57, 440 N.E.2d 590. Such an action
rests upon the equitable principle that one shall not be permitted to unjustly enrich oneself at the expense of another,
without making compensation therefor. Id.
In order to demonstrate a prima facie case, a plaintiff must show that he conferred a benefit upon another and that the
circumstances render it unjust and inequitable to permit the other to retain the benefit without making payment. Id."
"Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious."
AUTHOR / EDITOR: J. NORMAN STARK is an Attorney-at-Law, a Registered Architect, (AIA, NCARB) Registered
Landscape Architect, Interior Designer, Planner and Senior Appraiser (ASA), admitted to practice law before the Bar of
Ohio, the US District Courts, Ohio and Illinois (Central Dist.), the US Court of Appeals, and the United States Supreme
Court. He is a Mediator, Arbitrator and Litigator with experience in Business, Construction Law, and Public Works, and with
additional experience in Real Estate, Construction Attorney (Legal Project and Crisis Management), and as an Expert Witness
(Forensic Architect). His office is in Cleveland, Ohio.