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Britton v. Turner

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Britton v. Turner, 6 N.H. 481 (1834).

Facts: Plaintiff was hired to work for the defendant for one year, and at the end of that year, he would receive his yearly wages of $120. After about 9 1/2 months, Plaintiff left the employment. Defendant refused to pay Plaintiff for the work that Plaintiff completed in the 9 1/2 months.

Proc. Hist: Jury was instructed that Plaintiff should receive the value of the labor that he performed. Jury returned verdict of $95. Defendant appealed, excepting to the jury instructions.

Issue: Should Defendant owe any money to Plaintiff when Plaintiff voluntarily left the contractual employment?

Holding: Plaintiff should receive the amount commensurate to the work performed.

Reasons: If Defendant did not have to pay anything to Plaintiff, 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.

Judgment: Affirmed.