Oliver v. Campbell

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Oliver v. Campbell, 43 Cal. 2d 298 (1954).

Facts: Plaintiff lawyer agreed to represent Defendant in divorce proceedings for a very low dollar amount (much lower than typical). When Defendant was unhappy with the result at trial, he dismissed Plaintiff attorney before the final hearing and the entry of judgment and refused to pay. Plaintiff sues for reasonable value of services (restitution damages), arguing that the contract was not completed.

Issue: Should the Plaintiff be compensated, and if so, how much?

Holding: Plaintiff should not receive restitution damages (quantum meruit), but only contract price.

Reason: Plaintiff has essentially completed performance of the contract.

Rule: Restitution is proper damages if:

  • Material Breach and
  • Plaintiff has not completed the performance of the contract.