Where contractors were prevented from performing a contract, they were entitled to recover what their work and labor completed up to the point the work was halted was worth, whether it was of value to the employer or not.
Contractors brought an action in a justice's court to recover an amount claimed to be due them for work and labor performed in sinking a mining shaft for defendant employer, a mining company. The contractors made a contract with the employer through its superintendent by which they were to sink a shaft to a ledge and timber the same up, the contractors to furnish everything and to be paid $ 10 per foot. They claimed that they sunk the shaft to the ledge and had timbered it to within ten inches of the ledge when they were stopped in their work by a man who, they claimed, had immediate charge of the mining operations for the employer. They claimed the right to recover for the work actually done by them under the quantum meruit, on the ground that they were prevented by the employer, without fault on their part, from performing the contract. The contractors recovered a judgment in the justice's court. The employer appealed to the Iron Circuit Court (Michigan), where the contractors again had judgment. The case was brought to the Supreme Court of Michigan on writ of error based on the court's instructions to the jury.
Did the trial court err in instructing the jury regarding quantum meruit?
The court held that the trial court properly instructed the jury that where contractors were prevented from performing the contract, they were entitled to recover what their work and labor was worth, whether it was of value to the employer or not. The court held that the trial court did not err in stating to the jury that the man who ordered the contractors to stop working was the agent of the employer as that was an admitted fact at trial.