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Commerce Partnership 8098 Limited Partnership v. Equity Contracting Co., Inc

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Brief Fact Summary. Defendant, Commerce Partnership 8098 Limited Partnership, hired a general contractor to perform some improvements on their property. Plaintiff was a subcontractor for the job, but did not receive payment.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. For a subcontractor to recover from an owner under a quasi contract, the subcontractor must show that the owner did not pay anyone for the services rendered by the subcontractor.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Assumpsit may be maintained for the recovery of damages for the breach or non-performance of a simple contract, oral or written, or upon a contract implied by law from the acts or conduct of the parties.

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Facts. Plaintiff was a subcontractor hired to perform improvements on Defendant’s property. Following the completion of the work, Plaintiff received a punch list of remedial work. The remedial work was not performed by Plaintiff because the partial payment was requested and refused. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant did not fully pay the general contractor and as a result, Plaintiff was not paid.

Issue. Can Plaintiff recover from Defendant under a quasi contract theory?

Held. No. Plaintiff cannot recover from Defendant under a quasi contract theory.
Plaintiff is arguing that Defendant was unjustly enriched by the improvements Plaintiff made to Defendant’s property without receiving compensation.
The elements required for a quasi contract are: (1) Plaintiff conferred a benefit on Defendant, (2) Defendant has knowledge of the benefit, (3) the benefit has been accepted or retained by Defendant, and (4) under the circumstances it would be inequitable for Defendant to retain the benefit without paying for it. When a subcontractor brings a quasi contract action against an owner, the subcontractor must exhaust remedies against the general contractor and show that the owner received the benefit without paying anyone. Because Plaintiff in the present case did not prove that Defendant did not pay anyone for the benefit conferred by Plaintiff, Plaintiff cannot recover under a quasi contract theory.

Discussion. In the present case, Plaintiff did not show that Defendant did not pay anyone for the services performed by Plaintiff. Therefore, Plaintiff could not recover under a quasi contract theory.

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