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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts
Posted: October 7, 2015

Unjust Enrichment Claim Requires Relationship Between Plaintiff and Defendant

On October 6, 2015, the First Department issued a decision in Schroeder v. Pinterest Inc., 2015 NY Slip Op. 07232, affirming the dismissal of an unjust enrichment claim, explaining:

The motion court properly dismissed the cause of action for unjust enrichment as against [the defendant]. To state a claim for unjust enrichment, a plaintiff must allege that: (1) the [defendant] was enriched, (2) at plaintiff’s expense, and (3) that it is against equity and good conscience to permit the defendant to retain what is sought to be recovered. Further, a plaintiff cannot succeed on an unjust enrichment claim unless it has a sufficiently close relationship with the other party. Although contractual privity is not required, there must be a relationship between the parties that is not too attenuated, and that could have caused reliance or inducement.

Here, the complaint contains no facts showing that plaintiffs had any relationship or connection to [the defendant], let alone the sufficiently close relationship necessary to sustain this claim. Plaintiffs do not allege that [they] had any contact with [the defendant] or its founders. The complaint alleges only a relationship between plaintiffs and [a different defendant], and a separate relationship between [him] and [the defendant], which is too attenuated, and insufficient to have caused reliance or inducement.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted).

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