An Introduction to Unjust Enrichment
Contracts are vital to the construction industry, and they help to ensure a construction project is completed as agreed from start to finish. They’re an essential safeguard against litigation. As your Jacksonville construction attorneys, we understand that litigating breached contracts are complex enough, but what happens when there’s no explicit contract in place and an agreement between construction parties goes awry? Things can get even more complicated.
A quasi-contract, also known as an implied contract, is a non-contractual relationship implied and enforceable by law between two or more parties. Although the relationship between the parties are very similar to any other contractual relationship there is no actual agreed upon contract in place. When there’s a breach in the implied contract the court systems allow parties to seek restitution by means of unjust enrichment.
The Legal Dictionary defines unjust enrichment as “A general equitable principle that no person should be allowed to profit at another's expense without making restitution for the reasonable value of any property, services, or other benefits that have been unfairly received and retained.” Unjust enrichment is simply about one party being enriched at the unjust expense of another.
In construction, unjust enrichment claims can be related to unpaid work, unfinished work, or worker’s compensation just to name a few. An example of an unjust enrichment claim relating to unpaid work occurred in the Iberiabank v. Coconut 41, LLC, 2013 WL 6061833 (M.D.Fla. 2013), the contractor was awarded based on the argument that when contractors perform a significant amount of work or complete work, they are entitled to the full contract price, minus the owner’s right to recover damages due to the contractor’s failure to render full performance.
3 Elements to Remedy an Unjust Enrichment Claim
Although each case is unique, to obtain remedy from unjust enrichment the question of whether one party was enriched and if that enrichment was unjust must be answered. The following three elements must be proven:
- The plaintiff provided the defendant with something of value while expecting compensation in return.
- The defendant must have acknowledged and accepted the benefit given.
- The plaintiff must show that it would be unjust for the defendant to enjoy the benefit without paying for it.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.