A jury determined that the City had breached the contract, and that American Underground Engineering (AUE) was entitled to $7.3 million in damages based on quantum meruit. The City argued that AUE could not recover damages based on quantum meruit because it had a remedy based on their existing and valid contract. The court, however, upheld the jury’s award of damages (although it was reduced by “remittitur” of $2.0 million) stating: In the usual course, courts do not allow claims grounded in quasi-contract where a fully performed, valid agreement exists between the parties. Where, however, one party has wrongfully terminated the agreement by committing a material breach, “quantum meruit [is] an appropriate measure of damages[.]” Failure to make payment is one such type of terminating breach. Inordinate delays also constitute a breach that will entitle the non-breaching party to disregard the contract figures and proceed on a quantum meruit basis. As a consequence, once an agreement has been wrongfully terminated, the non-breaching party may elect to pursue quantum meruit damages. Where a party seeks quantum meruit damages for the premature wrongful termination of a construction contract, courts calculate the damages by considering the actual job costs plus allowance for overhead and profit minusamount paid. In this case, quantum meruit relief was proper because AUE presented evidence that the City breached the contract by failing to pay for work performed in accordance with the contract’s terms.
Quantum Meruit Proper Measure of Damages for Breached Contract
American Underground Engineering, Inc. v. City of Syracuse
2011 WL 4809882