Unjust Enrichment, Quasi Contract, and/or Quantum Meruit

What If We Don’t Have A Contract?

Even if the parties do not have an enforceable contract, Minnesota law can still require a defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff for the benefit received by the defendant.  In order to establish a claim for unjust enrichment, the plaintiff must show that the defendant knowingly received something of value to which he was not entitled, and that the circumstances are such that it would be unjust for the defendant to retain the benefit.Acton Constr. Co. v. State, 383 N.W.2d 416, 417 (Minn. App. 1986) (the elements of a quasi contract are: (1) a benefit is conferred; (2) the defendant appreciates and knowingly accepts the benefit; and (3) the defendant’s retention of the benefit under the circumstances would be inequitable.).

An action for unjust enrichment does exist simply because one party benefits from the efforts of others; instead, it must be shown that the plaintiff was unjustly enriched in the sense that the term ‘unjustly’ could mean illegally, unlawfully (e.g., fraudulent) or even morally wrongfully enriched. First Nat’l Bank of St. Paul v. Ramier, 311 N.W.2d 502, 504 (Minn. 1981).

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