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Kelley v. Hance - 108 Conn. 186, 142 A. 683 (1928)

Rule:

There can ordinarily be no recovery where the contractor has willfully abandoned his contract without justification.

Facts:

In 1926, plaintiff contractor and defendant property owner entered into a contract in which the contractor agreed to excavate to the proper level and construct a sidewalk and curb in front of the owner’s property for the agreed price of $420. After partial performance, the contractor abandoned all work. Thereafter, plaintiff contractor filed a complaint to recover the value of the services he rendered before he abandoned performance. The trial court ruled in favor of plaintiff contractor, holding that the contractor was entitled to recover the reasonable value of the benefits accruing to defendant property owner from work done by plaintiff contractor. Accordingly, defendant property owner appealed.

Issue:

Was plaicontractor ntiff entitled to recover the reasonable value of the benefits accruing to defendant property owner from the work done by plaintiff, notwithstanding the fact that plaintiff did not completely perform his obligations under the contract?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

As to construction contracts, the Court noted that the rule was to be applied liberally permitting a recovery where a contractor has deviated slightly from the terms of the contract, not willfully but in good faith, and there has been a substantial performance of the contract of which the other party has received the benefit. Taking off from this point, the Court held that recovery for partial performance could be allowed only when the part performance was justified. Thus, the appellate court concluded that because plaintiff had willfully abandoned the contract, thus, he was not entitled to recover for benefits conferred on the property owner.

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