An ever-increasing number of decisions of courts of last resort now permit defaulting contractors, where their work has contributed substantial value to the other contracting party's property, to recover the value of the work and materials expended on a quantum meruit basis, the recovery being diminished, however, to the extent of such damage as the contractor's breach causes the other party.
Appellant entered into an agreement with appellee whereby appellant agreed to construct certain alterations and repairs to a dwelling house. After working several months on the project, appellant was forcefully ejected from the premises by appellee. Appellee claimed that appellant's work was in contradiction of the contract terms and was unsatisfactory. Appellant brought suit to recover the reasonable value of the work and materials he had expended on the site before his expulsion. The trial court held that appellant was entitled to recover the balance due only on the first payment since the payment provisions were severable.
Can a contractor recover the value for his labor and services on the basis of quantum meruit even if he breached the contract?
The court held that the trial court's judgment was contrary to law as to the method by which the right to judgment was determined. Since appellant's work contributed substantial value to appellee's property, he was entitled to recover the reasonable value of the work and materials he expended on the contract prior to his expulsion by appellee.