Elements of Nevada's Theories of Liability

Unjust Enrichment

Unjust Enrichment

Elements

  • Standard 1

Under Nevada law, the elements of an unjust enrichment claim or, “quasi contract” claim, are:
(1) a benefit conferred on the defendant by the plaintiff;
(2) appreciation of the benefit by the defendant; and
(3) acceptance and retention of the benefit by the defendant
(4) in circumstances where it would be inequitable to retain the benefit without payment.

Kennedy v. Carriage Cemetery Services, Inc., 727 F.Supp.2d 925, 932 (D.Nev. 2010) (citing Leasepartners Corp., Inc. v. Robert L. Brooks Trust, 113 Nev. 747, 942 P.2d 182, 187 (Nev.1997))

 

 

  • Standard 2

Unjust enrichment is ” ‘the unjust retention … of money or property of another against the fundamental principles of justice or equity and good conscience.’ ” Topaz Mutual Co. v. Marsh, 108 Nev. 845, 856, 839 P.2d 606, 613 (1992) (quoting Nevada Industrial Dev. v. Benedetti, 103 Nev. 360, 363 n. 2, 741 P.2d 802, 804 n. 2 (1987)).

  • Standard 3

Additionally, unjust enrichment occurs “when ever [sic] a person has and retains a benefit which in equity and good conscience belongs to another.”
Unionamerica Mtg., 97 Nev. at 212, 626 P.2d at 1273.

Example Cases

Proof

Damages

In a case with a quantum meruit or unjust enrichment theory of recovery, the proper measure of damages is the ” ‘reasonable value of [the] services.’ ” Flamingo Realty, 110 Nev. at 987, 879 P.2d at 71 (quoting Morrow v. Barger, 103 Nev. 247, 252, 737 P.2d 1153, 1156 (1987)). In determining the proper measure of damages, we have acknowledged “applicability of ‘established customs’ when determining the ‘reasonable value’ of … services.” Flamingo Realty, 110 Nev. at 988, 879 P.2d at 71.

Asphalt Products Corp. v. All Star Ready Mix, Inc., 111 Nev. 799, 802, 898 P.2d 699, 701 (Nev. 1995).

Where “the district court fail[s] to explain its rationale for formulating [the damages for unjust enrichment,]” this court will remand to the district court for an explanation so that this court may determine whether the district court’s method was reasonable.

Krause v. Becker, Case No. 48051, 2008 WL 6102036, *2 (Nev. 2008) (citing Asphalt Prods. v. All Star Ready Mix, 111 Nev. 799, 803, 898 P.2d 699, 701 (1995)).

Defenses

No Unjust Enrichment In Presence Of A Valid Contract

An action based on a theory of unjust enrichment is not available when there is an express, written contract, because no agreement can be implied when there is an express agreement. 66 Am.Jur.2d Restitution § 6 (1973). “The doctrine of unjust enrichment or recovery in quasi contract applies to situations where there is no legal contract but where the person sought to be charged is in possession of money or property which in good conscience and justice he should not retain but should deliver to another [or should pay for].” 66 Am.Jur.2d Restitution § 11 (1973); see Lipshie v. Tracy Investment Co., 93 Nev. 370, 379, 566 P.2d 819, 824 (1977) (“To permit recovery by quasi-contract where a written agreement exists would constitute a subversion of contractual principles.”).
Leasepartners Corp. v. Robert L. Brooks Trust Dated November 12, 1975, 113 Nev. 747, 755-56, 942 P.2d 182, 187 (Nev. 1997).

Misc

“The phrase ‘unjust enrichment’ is used in law to characterize the result or effect of a failure to make restitution of, or for, property or benefits received under such circumstances as to give rise to a legal or equitable obligation to account therefor.”
Leasepartners Corp. v. Robert L. Brooks Trust Dated November 12, 1975, 113 Nev. 747, 755, 942 P.2d 182, 187 (Nev. 1997) (quoting 66 Am.Jur.2d Restitution § 3 (1973)).