Britton v. Turner

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Britton v. Turner
Court New Hampshire Supreme Court
Citation 6 N.H. 481 (1834)
Date decided July 1, 1834
Appealed from Court of Common Pleas (New Hampshire)


Plaintiff (Mr. Britton) was hired to work for the defendant (Mr. Turner) for 1 year, and at the end of that year, he would receive his yearly wages of $120 (roughly $44,000 in 2023) from March 1831 to March 1832.

After about 9 1/2 months, Britton left the employment in December 1831. Turner refused to pay Britton for the work that Britton completed in the 9 1/2 months.

Procedural History

Britton sued Turner for $100.

Jury was instructed that Plaintiff (Britton) should receive the value of the labor that he performed.

Jury returned verdict of $95. Defendant appealed, excepting to the jury instructions.


Should Defendant (Turner) owe any money to Plaintiff (Britton) when Britton voluntarily left the contractual employment?


Plaintiff (Britton) should receive the amount commensurate to the work performed.

Britton can't recover damages, but he can recover in quantum meruit for the value of his services.




If Defendant (Turner) did not have to pay anything to Plaintiff (Britton), then other employers would have motivation to try to drive their employees away after substantial work is finished but before it is completed.

Also, employees would have incentive to quit without starting because they would know that any work completed, short of fully performing the contract, would go uncompensated.


The implied promise is to pay such amount of the stipulated price for the whole labor, as remains after deducting what it would cost to procure a completion of the residue of the service, and also any damage which has been sustained by reason of the non-fulfillment of the contract.


Contract litigation
Breach of contract Quantum meruit
Implied contract Quasi-contract Unjust enrichment