When Do You Qualify for Quantum Meruit Recovery in Federal Government Contract Claims Against the Federal Government? If you have a written contract, this can be a tricky undertaking.
Filing quantum meruit claims against the federal government can be confusing to businesses and individuals. Understanding what quantum meruit damages are available to you under contract claims against the federal government is important. Quantum recovery is available in limited circumstances.
Quantum Meruit Definition
The Doctrine of Quantum Meruit in contract law, which means “as much as he is merited,” permits the contractor to be compensated under an implied-in-fact contract when the contractor confers a benefit to the government in the course of performing a government contract that is subsequently declared invalid. N.H. Flight Procurement, LLC v. United States (2014).
Even if the contract is not enforceable against the federal government, the contractor should still be paid for the goods and services rendered and accepted. This also applies to quantum in federal construction cases.
Federal Contract Quantum Meruit Claims may be available under the following situations:
- Government attempted to form a contract with a private party, but a defect prevented the contract from coming into existence
- There must be some contractual agreement between the parties
- Federal Government refuses to pay
- Under the first two circumstances, even if there is no express contract, a contract can still be found if a meeting of the minds can be inferred under the quantum theory
- Benefit by the contractor to the government in the form of goods or services, which has been accepted, but the contract was later rescinded for invalidity
- Authorized government agent
In Quantum Meruit contract law, some case-law requires a mutually attempted contract to allow for a contract claim under a quantum meruit claims basis. N.H. Flight Procurement. However, if there is no contractual relationship with the federal government, then recovery, among others, is not available. See also information on cost escalation damages.
Contract Quantum Meruit Damages Not available when:
- There is no contractual relationship
- If there is no implied-in-fact contract, but rather an implied-in-law contract, the Court of Federal Claims does not have jurisdiction over contracts implied in law (28 USC 1491(a)(1))
- Claims forfeited under the Special Plea in Fraud Statute (Veridyne Corporation v. United States, 758 F.3d 1371 (Fed. Cir. 2014))
- When fraud is committed under the very contract upon which suit is brought (Little v. United States, 152 F. Supp. 84 (Ct. Cl. 1957))
- If the United States is a party to the contract, and the person who entered into the contract on behalf of the government had no authority to bind the government (See Council for Tribal Empl. Rights v. United States, 112 Fed. Cl. 231 (2013))
Appellate Court May Lack Jurisdiction to Hear Quantum Meruit Claim on Federal Contract Case
Large business and small government contractors should be careful when claiming quantum meruit damages on appeal. Some lawyers may attempt to recover on a “quantum meruit basis for the value of the goods or services accepted and received by the federal government.” Simply because contractor conferred a benefit to the agency does not automatically entitle a plaintiff to damages on federal contract.
Quantum meruit claims on a government contract presents an implied-in-law claim, which this court generally has no jurisdictional power authority to hear. See International Data Prods. Corp. v. United States, 492 F.3d 1317, 1325 (Fed. Cir. 2007); Atlas Corp. v. United States, 895 F.2d 745, 755 (Fed. Cir. 1990).
An exception to the general rule exists only when a contractor in good faith provides goods or services to the government under an express contract that is later rescinded due to
invalidity. See United States v. Amdahl Corp., 786 F.2d 387, 393 (Fed. Cir. 1986).
Quantum Meruit Construction Damages in Colorado
Similar to the federal contracting requirements, a plaintiff seeking to recover under a quantum meruit damages theories of recovery in contract law (also termed unjust enrichment or quasi-contract) in Colorado has the burden of proof to show that (1) at the plaintiff’s expense, (2) the defendant received a benefit, (3) under circumstances that would make it unjust for the defendant to keep the benefit without paying the plaintiff. Salzman v. Bachrach, 996 P.2d 1263 (Colo. 2000).
Quantum Meruit vs Unjust Enrichment
“A valid claim in quantum meruit requires: that
- Plaintiff rendered services to the defendant ;
- with the knowledge and consent of the defendant; and
- under circumstances it is reasonable for the plaintiff to expect payment.”
“To establish a claim for unjust enrichment, three elements must be proved:
- Plaintiff conferred a benefit upon the defendant;
- an appreciation or knowledge by the defendant of the benefit; and
- the acceptance or retention by the defendant of the benefit under such circumstances as to make it unfair for the defendant to keepthe benefit without payment to plaintiff .”
In a recent case involving a government construction project in Colorado, United States ex rel. Heggem-Lundquist Paint Co. v. Centerre Government Contracting Group, a subcontractor sought recovery against another subcontractor.
The plaintiff was also trying to recover breach of contract. Even if the plaintiff cannot recover under both theories, Colorado law permits a party to advance multiple theories of recovery. Hemmann Mgmt. Servs. v. Mediacell, Inc., 176 P.3d 856 (Colo. App. 2007). Litigants must also understand the difference between quantum meruit vs unjust enrichment
At the minimum, under quantum meruit claim government contract law, you may have a claim against the federal government. Please call a contract claims and dispute and quantum meruit lawyer at 1-866-601-5518.