The plaintiffs wanted to get a franchise for a city rail system. They hired the defendant as their attorney to help in the process. Part of the process was a $2,500 fee to be paid to the city treasurer. The plaintiffs gave the fee to the defendant and he paid it to the city. The city then chose not to grant the franchise to the plaintiffs and returned the $2,500 to the defendant so he could return it to the plaintiffs. The defendant did not return the full fee amount, but rather took out $1,250 for his services and returned the rest. The plaintiffs brought suit, alleging that the amount taken was “unjust, unlawful, and fraudulent” and that the reasonable value of the defendant’s services was actually $250. The defendant demurred and the circuit court overruled the demurrer. The defendant appealed.