Thursday, August 11, 2011

Elements of Quantum Meruit Claim


Quantum meruit is an equitable theory of recovery based on an implied agreement to pay for benefits received and knowingly accepted. Heldenfels Bros., Inc. v. City of Corpus Christi, 832 S.W.2d 39, 41 (Tex. 1992); Tricon Tool & Supply, Inc. v. Thumann, 226 S.W.3d 494, 502 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2006, pet. denied).

A party can recover in quantum meruit when non-payment for the services rendered would result in an unjust enrichment to the party benefited by the work. Speck v. First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Houston, 235 S.W.3d 811, 815 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.). To recover in quantum meruit, the plaintiff must establish that: (1) valuable services and/or materials were furnished, (2) to the party sought to be charged, (3) which were accepted by the party sought to be charged, and (4) under such circumstances as reasonably notified the recipient that the plaintiff, in performing, expected to be paid by the recipient. Heldenfels Bros., 832 S.W.2d at 41 (citing Vortt Exploration Co. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 787 S.W.2d 942, 944 (Tex. 1990)). The plaintiff must also demonstrate that its efforts “were undertaken for the person sought to be charged; it is not enough to merely show that [its] efforts benefitted the defendant.” Hester v. Friedkin Cos., 132 S.W.3d 100, 106 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2004, pet. denied) (emphasis in original).

SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals - 01-10-00610-CV - 8/11/11

In his third issue, Bavishi contends that the trial court erroneously rendered summary judgment in favor of Airtron on its quantum meruit claim because it failed to establish that Bavishi accepted Airtron’s services.

Bavishi contends that he raised a fact issue regarding whether he accepted Airtron’s services, and he points to his summary judgment affidavit and the attached series of e-mails between Nylan and himself discussing the problems with the air conditioning system as evidence that Airtron did not satisfy its responsibility to correct all problems that arose involving the air conditioning system. Airtron argues that its quantum meruit claim was limited to recovery for the reasonable value of materials that it provided to Bavishi under its agreement with Transtar before Airtron contracted directly with Bavishi, including the installation of “grills, registers, and fan covers,” and that by not objecting to the installation of these particular materials or claiming that Airtron’s installation of these materials was faulty Bavishi accepted the materials. We agree with Airtron.

Airtron’s contract with Transtar obligated it to install, among other things, “steel supply grills and aluminum fixed bar return grills.” In his summary judgment affidavit, Nylan averred that Airtron installed materials, “including grills, registers, and fan covers,” pursuant to its contract with Transtar and that Transtar did not pay Airtron for these materials. After Bavishi fired Transtar and took over the project as general contractor, he signed a new contract with Airtron, which specified the remaining work to be completed and materials to be installed. This contract did not mention items such as grills, registers, and fan covers. Furthermore, although Bavishi subsequently informed Airtron of the numerous alleged problems with the air conditioning system, he never complained that the materials installed under the Transtar contract, and specified in Airtron’s quantum meruit claim, were unsatisfactory. There is also no evidence that any of the subsequent air conditioning subcontractors hired by Bavishi after Airtron left the project were required to fix problems concerning these specific materials.

We conclude that, under these facts, the summary judgment evidence establishes that Bavishi accepted the materials installed pursuant to Airtron’s contract with Transtar and at issue in Airtron’s quantum meruit claim. See also RC Mgmt., Inc. v. Tex. Waste Sys., Inc., No. 04-02-00488-CV, 2003 WL 1712535, at *4 (Tex. App.—San Antonio Apr. 2, 2003, no pet.) (mem. op.) (“[T]he evidence reflects that RCM did not refuse delivery of the larger containers or contact TWS to, at the very least, complain of the larger containers.”). We therefore hold that the trial court correctly rendered summary judgment in favor of Airtron on its quantum meruit claim.

We overrule Bavishi’s third issue.

SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals - 01-10-00610-CV - 8/11/11

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