law-quantum-meruit - no expectation to be paid | other quantum meruit caselaw || quantum meruit only in
absence of contract | quasi-contractual theories of recovery |
Quantum meruit is an equitable theory of recovery founded in the principle of unjust enrichment. Vortt
Exploration Co. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc., 787 S.W.2d 942, 944 (Tex. 1990). “To recover under the doctrine of
quantum meruit, a plaintiff must establish that: 1) valuable services and/or materials were furnished, 2) to the
party sought to be charged, 3) which were accepted by the party sought to be charged, and 4) under such
circumstances as reasonably notified the recipient that the plaintiff, in performing, expected to be
paid by the recipient.” Heldenfels Bros. v. City of Corpus Christi, 832 S.W.2d 39, 41 (Tex. 1992); Vortt
Exploration Co., 787 S.W.2d at 944; Speck v. First Evangelical Lutheran Church of Houston, 235 S.W.3d 811,
815 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] 2007, no pet.).
HOUSTON CASE LAW ON QUANTUM MERUIT AS BASIS FOR RECOVERY -
ELEMENT OF EXPECTATION OF PAYMENT FOR SERVICES RENDERED
Doyle v. Heilman (Tex.App.- Houston [1st Dist.] Mar. 11, 2010)(Hanks)
(probate matter, claim against estate by friend/caregiver not provided for in care-recipient's will fails, judgment
on quantum meruit claim for personal care services reversed, element of notice of expectation to be paid for
services provided not satisfied in this case)
Following a bench trial, the court awarded appellee, Leticia G. Heilman, $72,300 in damages on her claim for quantum meruit
against Charlotte Doyle, as executor of the estate of Alfred Miller. The court also awarded $16,177.50 in attorney’s fees and
additional amounts in the event of an appeal. On appeal, Doyle contends that the trial court erred by (1) failing to apply Texas
Probate Code Section 59A, the statute of frauds, statute of limitations, and laches; (2) applying the equitable principle of quantum
meruit to allow for a recovery barred by Probate Code Section 59A; (3) finding the evidence to be legally and factually sufficient to
support Heilman’s claim for quantum meruit; (4) awarding damages not supported by the evidence; (5) overruling Doyle’s
Daubert challenge to the qualifications of Heilman’s expert; and (6) awarding legal fees.
Because we find that Heilman failed to establish a claim for quantum meruit as a matter of law, we sustain Doyle’s third issue
and need not address the others. We reverse the judgment of the trial court and render judgment that Heilman take nothing.
REVERSE TRIAL COURT JUDGMENT AND RENDER JUDGMENT: Opinion by Justice George Hanks
Before Justices Jennings, Hanks and Bland
01-09-00164-CV Charlotte Doyle, as Executor of The Estate of Alfred Miller, Deceased v. Leticia G. Heilman
Appeal from Probate Court No 1 of Harris County
Doyle argues that Heilman failed to satisfy her burden of establishing the elements of quantum meruit.
Specifically, Doyle argues that the evidence is legally and factually insufficient to establish that Heilman’s
services were rendered under circumstances that reasonably notified Miller that she expected to be paid.
Without evidence that the decedent was aware that the caregivers “expected” compensation for their services,
they cannot recover in quantum meruit. Id. (citing Heldenfels Bros., 832 S.W.2d at 41).
In the present case, Heilman unequivocally testified that Miller never offered to pay her for her services and she
never asked Miller to compensate her. Heilman testified that they had a relationship based on mutual affection
and she loved Miller. While Heilman’s testimony is inconsistent as to the exact date she made an oral
agreement with Miller, in all the factual variations it is clear that she was caring for Miller on a daily basis before
there was an alleged oral agreement. Even if taken as true, Heilman’s testimony shows that at some point after
voluntarily caring for Miller on a daily basis, Miller said he would provide for Heilman in his will. Her testimony
provides no evidence that she relied on the statement to her detriment. Rather, her testimony is that she
continued caring for Miller, as she had been doing voluntarily. Because she cared for Miller for months without
compensation before Miller mentioned including her in his will, the circumstances could not have reasonably
notified Miller she sought compensation. She admitted that she never asked Miller for compensation. While
she claims in her live petition that Miller had reasonable notice that she expected to be compensated because
he “knew that [she] would have to forego other employment opportunities in order to provide the services
contemplated,” Heilman testified at trial that she was a “housewife” and had not been employed since 1994.
Thus, there is no evidence that Heilman relied on Miller’s statement and forewent other job opportunities;
because she did not change her position, the circumstances could not have put Miller on reasonable notice
that she expected to be compensated. See Herbst, 995 S.W.2d at 315. “A person who has conferred a benefit
upon another, manifesting that he does not expect compensation therefor, is not entitled to restitution merely
because his expectation that the other will make a gift to him or enter into a contract with him is not realized.”
Peko Oil USA v. Evans, 800 S.W.2d 572, 577 (Tex. App.—Dallas 1990, writ denied) (quoting Restatement Of
Restitution § 57 (1937)). “It is elementary in the law governing quantum meruit recovery for work and labor that
no recovery may be had for services performed, without thought of direct cash compensation[.]” Id. (citing
Maple Island Farm v. Bitterling, 209 F.2d 867, 871-72 (8th Cir.1954)).
Further, Mendel does not corroborate Heilman’s testimony regarding an agreement. To the contrary, Mendel
testified he was unaware of any agreement between Miller and Heilman to compensate Heilman for her
services. Mendel’s only corroborating testimony was that Miller had mentioned including Heilman in his will.
Accordingly, we hold that Heilman has failed to establish her entitlement to recovery on a claim of quantum
meruit as a matter of law. See Herbst, 995 S.W.2d at 315. Therefore, the trial court erred in rendering
judgment for Heilman on her claim.
We sustain Doyle’s legal sufficiency challenge. Because the issue is dispositive, we need not address Doyle’s
other issues on appeal.
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