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February 18, 2015
The Court of Appeals held in a recent decision that contractor’s complaint against homeowners for failure to pay contractor for house renovation was sufficient to raise claim of quantum meruit in addition to a claim for breach of contract. One Bluff Drive, LLC v. K.A.P. Inc., 2015 WL 653667. After a jury trial, Appellant/Defendant appealed the verdict in favor of contractor for breach of contract and quantum meruit.
Contractor K.A.P., Inc. (“KAP”), brought breach of contract for homeowners failure to pay contractor in full for a major house renovation. After a jury trial, the homeowners appealed claiming that the trial court erred in instructing the jury on a quantum meruit claim and in denying its motion in limine to exclude evidence of contractors total cost for labor and equipment. On appeal, the Court held that although contractor’s complaint did not contain a specific count for quantum meruit, contractor’s allegations that homeowners ordering of several additional improvements throughout duration of project and their agreement to pay for any changes to the originally agreed-upon price were sufficient to support a claim distinct from its breach of contract claim.
Homeowners argued that the trial court erred by charging the jury on the law of quantum meruit because KAP never raised a claim under that theory and did not plead a separate count of quantum meruit. The Court rejected this argument stating: “[w]e hold that appellants’ arguments are baseless as a matter of fact or law.” In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that where there is an express contract and services not contemplated by the original agreement become necessary to achieve contractual objective and are rendered and accepted, the law implies and enforces performance of a promise to pay for such extra services. The Court also found that the trial court did not err in charging the jury on quantum meruit claim because the Court has a duty to charge the jury on applicable law, even where there is only slight evidence.