Court Finds for Landscaper Based on Quantum Meruit
By Ryan McCabe
A South Carolina landscape company agreed to perform landscaping and install an irrigation system for a Bluffton homeowner for $30,000. The arrangement was sealed with a handshake and was never reduced to writing.
After the landscaping began, the homeowner requested additional labor not included in the original proposal. Upon completion of the project, the company presented the homeowner with a bill for $32,677.89. When the homeowner refused to pay, the landscape company served him with a mechanic's lien and subsequently filed suit to foreclose the lien. The company's suit alleged breach of contract and, in the alternative, judgment under quantum meruit.
The court determined that although the landscape company's claim was not based on an express written contract, it was entitled recovery under a quantum meruit, or unjust enrichment claim.
There are three elements to a quantum meruit claim: (1) a benefit conferred upon the defendant by the plaintiff; (2) realization of that benefit by the defendant; and (3) retention by the defendant of the benefit under conditions that make it unjust for him to retain it without paying its value.
Because the company conferred a benefit of its services to the homeowner, which was realized by the homeowner, the court held that under these circumstances it would be unjust for the homeowner to retain this benefit without reasonably compensating the landscape company. For the full text of the SC Supreme Court's Opinion click here .
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