Quasi-Contract: Definition & Examples

Quasi-Contract: Definition & Examples
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  • 0:06 Unjust Enrichment and…
  • 1:31 Nursing Care Services,…
  • 2:54 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

A quasi-contract exists in the absence of a written contract and may be court ordered to avoid one party gaining at the expense of another party's actions.

Unjust Enrichment and Quasi-Contracts

Have you ever wished a pizza would just show up at your door? How about if that pizza has mushrooms and pepperoni on it? Better yet, how about if that pizza is free?

By accepting a free pizza that is not intended for you, you have been what the court calls unjustly enriched, meaning you profited at the expense of another without making an effort to make restitution.

There are some elements that must exist. The plaintiff must have provided the defendant with something of value with the expectation of being paid. The defendant accepted or acknowledged receipt of the thing of value. And the plaintiff must demonstrate that it would be unjust or unfair for the defendant to receive the item without paying for it - mostly financial fairness.

In this case, the pizza shop owner has every right to sue, and if this case were to make it to a courtroom, the judge would require a quasi-contract. This is also known as an implied contract and forces the unjustly enriched party to make restitution for the products or services received, even in the absence of a written contract. The restitution is called quantum meruit and is determined by the degree to which the defendant was unjustly enriched.

Paying for a pizza is minimal when compared to mounting medical bills. Let's analyze a case where medical treatment was provided without an expressed, written contract.

Nursing Care Services, Inc. v. Dobos (1980)

Sometime in 1980, Mary Dobos was rushed to Boca Raton Community Hospital. During her time in the intensive care unit, Dr. Rosen ordered nursing care around the clock while in the hospital, along with 48 hours of nursing care once at home, and two-weeks of care thereafter.

Dobos accepted care from Nursing Care Services, Inc., and the bill exceeded $3,800. Dobos refused to pay. Dobos claimed that she never contracted these services and did not understand that she would be responsible to pay. It seemed that Dobos believed her insurance company would compensate the nursing agency. Unfortunately, this belief does not pardon her. She is still responsible for paying.

Nursing Care Associates could have, during the course of treatment without compensation, pulled their services. However, they did not. They continued to provide Dobos with the level of care prescribed by Rosen.

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