September 29, 2008
Contracts Limerick of the Week: Oliver v. Campbell
Attorney Oliver agreed to represent Dr. Roy Campbell for a stated fee of $750. Okay, it was the 1950s, but even then $750 was a bit low for divorce proceedings that led to a 29-day trial. Things went pretty well at trial, but Dr. Campbell came in second and was not pleased with the silver medal. So, Dr. Campbell fired Mr. Oliver before the final hearing and the entry of judgment. Campbell was probably disappointed by that, until he realized that under the First Restatement ss. 347 and 350 (now R.2d s. 373), he could recover in restitution for the value of benefits conferred on Dr. Campbell, but only if Mr. Oliver had not completed performance.
Alas for Mr. Oliver, the majority of California's Supreme Court found that performance had been completed, and so he could only recover the unpaid portion of the contract price ($300) rather than the $5000 that the dissenting justice would have granted in quantum meruit.
Oliver v. Campbell
Campbell wasn't unjustly enriched
By the lawyer whose contract he'd ditched.
Counsel could have earned more
If he'd been fired before
Or claimed Campbell's wife was bewitched.
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