Bailey v. West Case Brief
Summary of Bailey v. West (1969) 105 R.I. 61
? = stable owner (Bailey)
? = former owner of horse (West)
?’s horse trainer “Buck”
Dr. Strauss – seller
Kelly – van driver
F: ? went with his trainer to buy a horse at Belmont Park. When said horse was received it was found to be lame. Horse was reshipped to seller who refused to take delivery. Kelly (the van driver) took horse to ?’s farm where it remained until sold in 1966.
While the horse was at ?’s farm ? sent bills to ? for the care of said horse. After a period of time (disputed, Ct. assumes 4 months) ? notified ? that he was not the owner of the horse and would not pay to board the horse.
I: Had the parties established an “implied in fact contract” for the care of the horse? Was Kelly an agent of West, and if so, shouldn’t those actions be binding on West?
Implied in law contracts/quasi-contracts are not really contracts – they are an equitable remedy. Implied in fact contracts are real contracts.
* Come to your own conclusion about the quasi-contract and implied in-fact contract. What if ? sells the horse and ? or Strauss later come back to claim the horse? What does the element of time do to this question.
R: There was no implied contract. Requirements for an implied contract are 1) agreement, 2) intent, and 3) a meeting of the minds. In this case there was no mutual agreement or intent (pg. 7) and ? had never used the ? to board horses before and thus there was no custom of trade relations between the two parties.
Test for quasi-contract: 1) benefit conferred upon ? by?, 2) appreciation by ? of such a benefit, 3) acceptance and retention by ? of benefit such that it would be inequitable to retain the benefit w/o payment. However, no legal duty to pay if performance is rendered by one person w/o a request by another…no duty to compensate (pg. 8).
* A promise may be given in words (written or oral) or inferred from acts.
A: Ct. held that the requirements for a quasi-contract had not been met since ? was a “volunteer” and thus ? had no duty to pay for the services. The purpose of a quasi-contract is to prevent unjust enrichment to one party, and while ? may not have received any substantial benefit in this case it is certain that ? suffered an expense and should have grounds to recover from someone. Could he recover from ? on the basis that Kelly was his agent? I would think so but apparently the ct. does not consider this. Should he now seek remuneration from Dr. Strauss’s trainer?
C: This case was on appeal from a lower ct. which held that ? should receive payment for four months of services rendered. This ct. held that ? “was a mere volunteer” and held the horse at his own risk. Thus, ?’s appeal was denied and the ct. entered a verdict for ?.