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Vertex, Inc. v. City of Waterbury

Connecticut Supreme Court
898 A.2d 178 (Conn. 2006)


Facts

In March 1999, Vertex, Inc. (Vertex) (plaintiff) offered to prepare the computer systems of the City of Waterbury (City) (defendant) for problems associated with the year 2000. Vertex accepted and work commenced that month. The parties entered a formal written contract detailing the tasks to be performed in June 1999. On July 1, 1999, Vertex sent the City a proposal to perform additional work to address problems it had identified in its first few months of working under the contract. It is disputed whether the City accepted the July 1999 proposal. Vertex performed the additional work proposed in the July 1999 proposal but the City refused to pay for the additional work. Vertex brought suit alleging, among other claims, unjust enrichment. A jury trial was held. Vertex requested a jury instruction explaining that, to prove an unjust enrichment claim, the plaintiff must show that the plaintiff provided services to the defendant, that the defendant benefitted, that the defendant unjustly failed to pay for the benefit, and that the defendant’s refusal to pay was detrimental to the plaintiff. The court rejected the proposed instruction and instead instructed the jury on implied-in-fact contracts. The jury was unable to reach a verdict and the court declared a mistrial. After the case was retried, the jury found in favor of the City. Vertex brought a motion to set aside the verdict and obtain a new trial, on grounds that the court improperly instructed the jury as to its unjust enrichment claim.

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Vertefeuille, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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