Scott v. Wesley

Decision Date18 October 1991
Docket NumberNo. CA,CA
Citation589 So.2d 26
PartiesJames M. SCOTT d/b/a Highway 16 Building Supply v. A.E. WESLEY, Jr. 90 0994. 589 So.2d 26
CourtCourt of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US

Larry Starno, Denham Springs, for plaintiff.

James Carnes, Hammond, for defendant-appellant.

Before LOTTINGER, EDWARDS and GONZALES, JJ.

EDWARDS, Judge.

Facts and Procedural Background

On or about March 1, 1983, plaintiff-appellee James S. Scott entered into a written contract with A.E. Wesley, Jr. whereby Scott agreed to build a shell for Wesley for a total price of $9,500.00. The contract indicated that one half of the purchase price was to be paid when the job began, and the remaining half was to be paid upon completion of the job. Work began on March 2, 1983, and the job was completed on or about March 16, 1983. Contrary to the terms of the contract, Wesley did not pay half the purchase price when the job began. Rather, he informed Scott that he was waiting on a check from his father, and that he would render the total purchase price upon completion. An invoice, dated April 30, 1983 was issued to Wesley, for the amount due on the house, $9,500.00. Wesley paid Scott with a check for the total amount, which check was returned to Scott N.S.F. Scott later discovered that the owner of the land on which he built the house was not Wesley's, but rather Dorothy Stark Hughes's, Wesley's mother-in-law at the time.

Scott filed suit against Wesley on January 11, 1984, for recovery of the purchase price of the house. Scott obtained a default judgment in that action ordering Wesley to pay Scott $9,500.00 plus 25% attorney fees and 12% interest from the date of judicial demand. According to Scott, he has been unable to collect any of the amount due on the judgment from Wesley.

Scott then filed this action against Mrs. Hughes on May 9, 1988, alleging that she has been unjustly enriched by the house which he built on her property, and seeking the $9,500.00 purchase price from her. The trial court dismissed a motion for summary judgment filed by Hughes, and after the trial on August 24, 1989, rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff, Scott, and against Hughes in the amount of $9,500.00 plus interest from the date of judicial demand. Hughes has appealed, assigning error to the trial court's dismissal of her motion for summary judgment and to the trial court's conclusion that Scott had established his case for unjust enrichment.

Unjust Enrichment

The root principle of an unjustified enrichment, expressly recognized in Louisiana as a quasi-contractual action, in Minyard v. Curtis Products, Inc., 251 La. 624, 205 So.2d 422 (1967), is that the plaintiff suffers an economic detriment for which he should not be responsible, while the defendant receives an economic benefit for which he has not paid. Tate, The Louisiana Action for Unjustified Enrichment: A Study in Judicial Process, 51 Tul.L.Rev. 446, 459 (1977). In Minyard, our Supreme Court set forth five prerequisites which must be satisfied to successfully invoke the action; there must be: (1) an enrichment, (2) an impoverishment, (3) a connection between the enrichment and the impoverishment, (4) an absence of justification or cause for the enrichment and the impoverishment, and (5) no other remedy at law available to the impoverishee.

In the context of the present action, prerequisites (1) through (4) require little discussion. Mrs. Hughes does not dispute that she has been enriched; the house built by Scott is on her property, and she testified that she moved into the house approximately five years prior to trial, after having made all of the necessary interior improvements, such as wiring, plumbing, fixtures, etc., and had lived in the house since that time. The obvious impoverishment to Scott is that he has never been paid the $9,500.00 purchase price for the house which he built. The causal connection between Scott's impoverishment and Hughes's enrichment is readily apparent. In interpreting the fourth prerequisite, our courts have held that the enrichment is justified if it is the result of, or finds its explanation in, the terms of a valid juridical act between the impoverishee (in this case, Scott) and the enrichee (in this case, Hughes), or between a third party and the enrichee. Edmonston v. A-Second Mortgage Company of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
21 cases
  • Quaternary Res. Investigations, LLC v. Phillips
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • November 19, 2020
    ...or cause for the enrichment and the impoverishment, and (5) no other remedy at law available to the impoverishee. Scott v. Wesley, 589 So.2d 26, 27 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1991), citing Minyard, 205 So.2d at 432 ; see also La. C.C. art. 2298.Although the contract between QRI and the Phillips is vo......
  • Gen. Accident Ins. Co. of Am. v. Aggreko, LLC
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Western District of Louisiana
    • December 17, 2012
  • Samedan Oil Corporation v. Ultra Fabricators, Inc.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • March 3, 1999
    ...does not have an unjust enrichment claim since Essex has other remedies at law which preclude recovery from Samedan. Scott v. Wesley, 589 So.2d 26 (La. App. 1st Cir.1991); Deubler Electric, Inc. v. Knockers of Louisiana, Inc., 665 So.2d 481 (La.App. 5th Cir.1995); Royal Oldsmobile Co., Inc.......
  • Belgard v. Collins
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Louisiana — District of US
    • December 8, 1993
    ... ... Scott v. Wesley, 589 So.2d 26 (La.App. 1 Cir.1991) ...         Mrs. Collins received the economic benefit of Mr. Beard's engineering services ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT