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If specific services are requested by the defendant, the contract is treated as one implied in fact and recovery is allowed for the reasonable value of the plaintiff's services; but if there is no meeting of the minds as to what services are to be rendered, the contract is treated as one implied in law, where the measure of damages is the amount, if any, of the defendant's gain - not the reasonable value of plaintiff's services.
Appellant Daniel Slick was injured in an automobile accident and received, though his own efforts, the maximum allowable recovery from the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund. Appellant then pursued an underinsured motorist (UIM) claim against his insurance company. Appellee attorney, Mary Beth Reinecker, a neighbor at the beginning of the events, offered to assist the appellant free of charge. At some later point, the appellee moved and alleged that the appellant contacted her and offered to pay her for assistance with his UIM claim. The appellant ultimately recovered $ 80,000, the maximum, from his insurer. The trial court awarded appellee $13,000, finding that while there was no contract implied in fact between the parties, there was a contract implied in law. Appellant challenged the decision.
The appellate court concluded that the evidence supported the trial court's determination that there was no contract for professional services between the parties, but there was an exchange of services that amounted to a contract implied in law. The appellate court disagreed, however, with the trial court's computation of recovery. The appellate court noted that a major part of the attorney's assistance was rendered prior to the time when she was allegedly offered compensation for her services and there was no evidence that the attorney negotiated upward from the insurer's initial offering or from what it otherwise would have been.