Baker v. Maclay Properties Co

In Baker v. Maclay Properties, Co., 94-1529 (La. 1/17/95), 648 So. 2d 888, the plaintiff sued to recover brokerage fees owed under a cooperating brokerage agreement. The agreement was found to be unenforceable as it was based upon an unconstitutional statute and regulation. Despite the nullity of the contract, the plaintiff was allowed to pursue his claim under the alternative theory of unjust enrichment or actio de in rem verso. In a supplemental petition, the plaintiff had stated an alternative claim for quantum meruit damages. The court explained that the civilian concept of quantum meruit refers to the measure of compensation or price unstated in a contract. In the absence of a contract, such as where a contract is declared an absolute nullity, there can be no determination of the measure of compensation or price and there can be no recovery under quantum meruit. The court also noted that the civilian concept of quantum meruit is at times used interchangeably with the common law concept of quantum meruit, which is a substantive law claim geared to equity. The Louisiana Supreme Court reiterated the five requirements for a showing of unjust enrichment: (1) there must be an enrichment; (2) there must be an impoverishment; (3) there must be a connection between the enrichment and resulting impoverishment; (4) there must be an absence of "justification" or "cause" for the enrichment and impoverishment; (5) there must be no other remedy at law available to plaintiff.