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Texas Quantum Meruit

©2014 Mark Courtois and Diane Davis

Quantum meruit is an equitable theory of recovery, founded on the theory of unjust enrichment, and based on an implied contract to pay for benefits received. Bashara v. Baptist Mem'l Hosp. Sys., 685 S.W.2d 307, 310 (Tex. 1985). The elements of a quantum meruit claim are: (1) valuable services or materials provided by plaintiff to the defendant, (2) who accepted the services or materials, (3) under such circumstances as would reasonably notify defendant that the plaintiff expect to be paid. See Speck v. First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hous., 235 S.W.3d 811, 815 (Tex. App.--Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.).

Quantum meruit implies a contract in circumstances where the parties neglected to form one, but equity nonetheless requires payment for beneficial services rendered and knowingly accepted. In re Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., 166 S.W.3d 732, 740 (Tex. 2005). As a result, a party generally cannot recover under quantum meruit where there is a valid contract covering the services or materials furnished. Id.; see also Truly v. Austin, 744 S.W.2d 934, 936 (Tex. 1988); Gen. Homes, Inc. v. Denison, 625 S.W.2d 794, 796 (Tex. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1981, no writ)(describing the rule as "well settled law"). When the parties themselves create a valid contract, there can be no recovery under a contract implied by law. Union Bldg. Corp. v. J & J Bldg. & Maint. Contractors, Inc., 578 S.W.2d 519, 520 (Tex. Civ. App.--Houston [14th Dist.] 1979, writ ref'd n.r.e.). The jury must determine any contested fact issues that would bear on a quantum meruit claim, but the ultimate question of how much, if any, equitable relief should be awarded, is something to be determined by the trial court. Hudson v. Cooper, 162 S.W.3d 685, 688 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2005, no pet.).  A four-year limitations period applies to a quantum meruit claim. Quigley v. Bennett, 256 S.W.3d 356, 361 (Tex. App.-- San Antonio 2008, no pet.);