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Law School Case Brief

Oliver v. Campbell - 43 Cal. 2d 298, 273 P.2d 15 (1954)


It is well settled that one who is wrongfully discharged and prevented from further performance of his contract may elect as a general rule to treat the contract as rescinded, may sue upon a quantum meruit as if the special contract of employment had never been made and may recover the reasonable value of the services performed even though such reasonable value exceeds the contract price. 


A lawyer brought an action against the estate of a former client to recover a sum allegedly owed to him by the estate. The lawyer alleged that the sum was the reasonable value of services rendered as an attorney for the decedent in an action for separate maintenance. The total fee for the lawyer's services was set forth in a written contract with decedent and the fee was to be paid after trial. At the conclusion of the trial, however, but before the signing of findings and judgment, decedent discharged the lawyer as his attorney. The trial court held that the lawyer could not recover the reasonable value of his services because compensation for those services was covered by the written contract. 


Was the lawyer entitled to recover his compensation?




The court held that since the lawyer had completed performance for his services, he was entitled to compensation in the amount called for in the contract and still owed to him by decedent for performance rendered.

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