Ellis Jones, Inc. v. Western Waterproofing Co., Inc., 838SC52

Docket NºNo. 838SC52
Citation312 S.E.2d 215, 66 N.C.App. 641
Case DateFebruary 21, 1984
CourtCourt of Appeal of North Carolina (US)

Page 215

312 S.E.2d 215
66 N.C.App. 641
ELLIS JONES, INC., formerly d/b/a Ellis Jones, Jr., Tile
Contractor, Inc.
No. 838SC52.
Court of Appeals of North Carolina.
Feb. 21, 1984.

Page 217

Erwin & Beddow by Fenton T. Erwin, Jr., Charlotte, for defendant-appellant.

Marcus, Whitley & Coley by Robert E. Whitley, Kinston, for plaintiff-appellee.

EAGLES, Judge.

Defendant first assigns as error the trial court's denial of defendant's motion for a directed verdict. Defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient, as a matter of law, to be submitted to the jury. We do not agree.

A motion for directed verdict must be denied when the trial court finds any evidence more than a scintilla to support plaintiff's case in all its constituent elements. The evidence must be considered in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and he is entitled to all reasonable inferences that can be drawn from it. Hunt v. Montgomery Ward and Co., 49 N.C.App. 642, 272 S.E.2d 357 (1980). In this contract action, plaintiff presented ample evidence that there was an agreement that plaintiff would do the splay base and other extra work and that defendant would pay plaintiff for that work, that plaintiff did the work, that defendant knowingly accepted and benefitted from plaintiff's work, and that defendant did not pay plaintiff. Plaintiff also presented sufficient evidence to show the reasonable value of the work performed. Therefore, the trial court's denial of defendant's motion for a directed verdict was proper.

Defendant's remaining assignments of error concern the trial judge's instructions on damages. The trial judge submitted issues to the jury that were directed to a contract theory of liability. The issues submitted were: (1) whether the parties entered "into a Contract subsequent to the written contract for work to be done at the Florence, South Carolina General Hospital"; (2) if so, [66 N.C.App. 645] whether the contract was breached; and (3) what amount, if any, the plaintiff was entitled to recover from defendant. The trial judge then proceeded to charge the jury as to matters relating to breach of contract. After some deliberation, the jury asked for further instructions on whether price was a necessary element of an oral contract. The trial judge then charged the jury that:

The law implies a promise to pay for services rendered by one party to another where the recipient knowingly and voluntarily accepts the services and there is no showing that the services were gratuitously given.

Where there is no agreement as to the amount of compensation to be paid for services, the person or company performing them is entitled to recover what the services are reasonably worth, based on the time and labor expended, skill, knowledge and experience involved and other surrounding circumstances.

Because the first paragraph of this supplementary instruction describes a contract implied in law while the rest of the judge's charge was based on a contract implied in fact, there was an inconsistency in the trial judge's instructions, but under these facts, we find no prejudicial error.

There are at least three variations of contract theory under which a trial judge could instruct a jury: express contract, contract implied in fact, and contract implied in law. The first two theories are based on "real" contracts, genuine agreements between the...

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38 cases
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    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. Western District of North Carolina
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    ...by [the injured party] that are accepted and appropriated by [the other party]." Ellis Jones, Inc. v. Western Waterproofing Co., Inc. , 66 N.C.App. 641, 312 S.E.2d 215, 218 (1984) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted).13 The Providers do not explain why the limited allegations in ......
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