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Current Developments in the Commercial Divisions of the
New York State Courts
Posted: May 18, 2018

Unjust Enrichment Claim Dismissed Because Contracts Governed Claims

On May 9, 2018, Justice Sherwood of the New York County Commercial Division issued a decision in Pressley v. Ford Models, Inc., 2018 NY Slip Op. 30892(U), dismissing an unjust enrichment claim because contracts governed the claims, explaining:

The determination of whether a quasi-contractual claim such as unjust enrichment should be dismissed as duplicative looks only to whether there is a valid written agreement, the existence of which is undisputed, and the scope of which clearly covers the dispute between the parties, and not whether plaintiff may recover under that contract. Each of the contracts at issue contains provisions showing that the agreements apply, not just to compensation received during the term of the contract, but afterwards as well.

(Internal quotations and citations omitted) (emphasis added).

Unjust enrichment is a common claim in commercial litigation. It is used when there was not a contract between the litigants, but the defendant received an unfair benefit at the plaintiff’s expense. As this decision shows, it only applies when there was not a contract between the parties. Contact Schlam Stone & Dolan partner John Lundin at jlundin@schlamstone.com if you or a client have questions regarding whether you have, or are the subject of, a claim for unjust enrichment.

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