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Bastian v. Gafford

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Plaintiff filed a lien upon Defendant’s real property and then sued to foreclose on the lien on the ground that an implied-in-fact contract had been created for his services. The trial court ruled for Defendant. Plaintiff appealed.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A contract implied in fact exists when one party requests and receives goods or services from another party under circumstances which imply an agreement to pay for those goods or services, regardless of the presence of unjust enrichment or whether the goods or services are ever actually used.

    Facts.

    In 1972, V.H. Gafford (Defendant) asked Leo Bastian (Plaintiff) if he would be interested in building an office building on part of Defendant’s land. Plaintiff orally agreed to construct the building and began drafting the plans. After the plans were substantially complete, Defendant sought financing for the construction project from First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Twin Falls (the Association). The Association denied financing unless Defendant received a firm bid for the project from a contractor. Defendant contacted Plaintiff, who refused to submit a firm bid and would only proceed with the project on a cost-plus basis. Defendant then hired another architect to draw a second set of plans and employed another contractor to construct the building. Plaintiff filed a lien upon Defendant’s real property for $3,250 based on the amount of goods and services rendered in drawing up the plans. Plaintiff then sued to foreclose the lien on the ground that an implied-in-fact contract had been created for his services. The trial court ruled for Defendant on the ground that Defendant had not been unjustly enriched because he never used the plans drafted by Plaintiff. Plaintiff appealed, alleging the trial court failed to distinguish between a quasi-contract, which requires unjust enrichment for recovery, and a contract implied in fact, which does not.

    Issue.

    Whether unjust enrichment must be present for the creation of a contract implied in fact.

    Held.

    No. The trial court’s ruling is reversed and remanded to the trial court for additional consideration of the existence of a contract implied in fact between Defendant and Plaintiff. A contract implied in fact exists when one party requests and receives goods or services from another party under circumstances which imply an agreement to pay for those goods or services, regardless of the presence of unjust enrichment or whether the goods or services are ever actually used.


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