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Commerce Partnership 8098 Limited Partnership v. Equity Contracting Co.

695 So. 2d 383 (1997)

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Commerce Partnership 8098 Limited Partnership v. Equity Contracting Co.

Florida District Court of Appeal

695 So. 2d 383 (1997)

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Facts

Commerce Partnership 8098 Limited Partnership (Commerce) (defendant) owned an office building. Commerce contracted with World Properties, Inc. (the general contractor) to perform improvements on the building. The general contractor contracted with Equity Contracting Co. (Equity) (plaintiff) to perform work on the office building. Both Commerce and the general contractor inspected Equity’s work as it progressed. When Equity completed its work, Commerce inspected it and asked Equity to do some repairs. Equity asked for partial payment before starting the repairs, which Commerce refused. Equity filed suit against the general contractor, who filed for bankruptcy. Equity then filed suit against Commerce under the theory of quantum meruit. At trial, after Equity rested, Commerce moved for involuntary dismissal, arguing that Equity had not proven a “contract implied in fact.” The court denied Commerce's motion. In its closing argument, Equity said that it had proved its claim for quantum meruit, which it said meant “unjust enrichment.” Commerce moved to reopen its case, asserting that Equity’s statement in closing was the first indication that Commerce was defending a quasi-contract claim. The court granted Commerce’s motion. Commerce provided evidence that the contract price was nearly $257,000, that it had paid over $64,000 directly to three subcontractors for their work on the project, and that it had paid over $223,000 to the general contractor. Equity objected that this evidence was irrelevant, and the court sustained the objection. The trial court entered judgment in favor of Equity, and Commerce appealed to the Florida District Court of Appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gross, J.)

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