Thursday, January 12, 2012
What is "Money Had and Received"? It does not sound like a cause of action, but ...
...it functions as one under Texas case law precedents:
ASSUMPSIT - MONEY HAD AND RECEIVED [MHnR] AS A THEORY OF RECOVERY / REIMBURSEMENT / RESTITUTION
Assumpsit For Money Had And Received
According to legal historians, assumpsit was developed to redress circumstances involving unjust enrichment or an implied promise to pay what in good conscience defendant was bound to pay the plaintiff. Tri-State Chem., Inc. v. Western Organics, Inc., 83 S.W.3d 189, 193-94 (Tex. App.-Amarillo 2002, pet. denied). Over time, assumpsit was divided into various categories. Id. at 194.
Money had and received is a category of general assumpsit to restore money where equity and good conscience require refund. Amoco Prod. Co. v. Smith, 946 S.W.2d 162, 164 (Tex. App.-El Paso 1997, no writ). “The question, in an action for money had and received, is to which party does the money, in equity, justice, and law, belong.
All plaintiff need show is that defendant holds money which in equity and good conscience belongs to him.” Staats v. Miller, 150 Tex. 581, 584, 243 S.W.2d 686, 687-88 (1951) (quoting 58 C.J.S., Money Received § 4a). A cause of action for money had and received is “less restricted and fettered by technical rules and formalities than any other form of action. It aims at the abstract justice of the case, and looks solely to the inquiry, whether the defendant holds money which . . . belongs to the plaintiff.” Id. (quoting United States v. Jefferson Elec. Mfg. Co., 291 U.S. 386, 402-03 (1934)).
AN EQUITABLE REMEDY
A cause of action for money had and received is not premised on wrongdoing, but “looks only to the justice of the case and inquires whether the defendant has received money which rightfully belongs to another.” Amoco, 946 S.W.2d at 164. Such an action may be maintained to prevent unjust enrichment when a party obtains money which in equity and good conscience belongs to another. Everett v. TK-Taito, L.L.C., 178 S.W.3d 844, 860 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth 2005, no pet.); J.C. Penney Co., Inc. v. Pitts, 139 S.W.3d 455, 457 n.4 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2004, no pet.) (citing Staats, 243 S.W.2d at 687). In short, it is an equitable doctrine applied to prevent unjust enrichment. Everett, 178 S.W.3d at 860; Hunt v. Baldwin, 68 S.W.3d 117, 132 (Tex. App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2001, no pet.).
To prove a claim for money had and received, a plaintiff must show that a defendant holds money which in equity and good conscience belongs to him. Edwards v. Mid- Continent Office Distrib., L.P., 252 S.W.3d 833, 837 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2008, pet. denied). In defending against such a claim, a defendant may present any facts and raise any defenses that would deny a claimant's right under this theory. Best Buy Co. v. Barrera, 248 S.W.3d 160, 162 (Tex. 2007) (per curiam); Hunter v. PriceKubecka, PLLC, 339 S.W.3d 795, 807 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2011, no pet.).
A recovery under assumpsit for money had and received does not “depend on the parties' agreement or intent but rather the law's presumption of a promise of compensation if one receiving another's money would thereby be unjustly enriched.”Amoco, 946 S.W.2d at 164.
EXPRESS CONTRACT NORMALLY PRECLUDES RECOVERY UNDER ALTERNATIVE EQUITABLE THEORIES
Generally, when a valid, express contract covers the subject matter of the parties' dispute, there can be no recovery under a quasi-contract theory. Fortune Prod. Co. v. Conoco, Inc., 52 S.W.3d 671, 684 (Tex. 2000); McAfee, Inc. v. Agilysys, Inc., 316 S.W.3d 820, 828 (Tex. App.-Dallas 2010, no pet.). The quasi-contractual action for money had and received is a cause of action for a debt not evidenced by a written contract between the parties. See Edwards, 252 S.W.3d at 836; see also Amoco, 946 S.W.2d at 164.
SOURCE: DALLAS COURT OF APPEALS - 05-10-00410-CV - 1/10/12