Martin v. Little, Brown & Co.
304 Pa.Super. 424, 450 A.2d 984 (Pa.Super. 1981)
sent a letter to Little telling them that one of their books had been
plagiarized.When Little sued
the third party infringer, Martin demanded compensation for his help.Little sent him $200, but he sued
for one-third of Little's recovery in the infringement suit and for
intentional infliction of mental distress based on Little's threat to
never requested payment for his services in his original letter.He simply offered to volunteer
information to Little.
made the claim pro se, that means
he didn't have a lawyer.
demurred all the facts.That means that even if all the
facts are true, the law still says they should win.
Trial Court ruled that there had been no contract made and that Martin
could not recover for quantum meruit
because he had acted as a "volunteer".
The Trial Court dismissed the
intentional infliction of mental distress claim.Getting stressed out because
someone threatens to countersue you is not a legitimate, recoverable
claim.If it was, then all
litigation would involve a mental distress tort.
Appellate Court affirmed the decision.
order to construe an implied contract from a course of conduct between
two parties, an intention to pay on the part of the alleged promisee must
be reasonably inferable. In
the absence of a contract, restitution is only available when someone has
been "unjustly enriched at the expense of another." Volunteers generally have no
right to restitution.
Court found nothing in the course of conduct between the parties that
suggested that Martin demanded money or that Little expressed a
willingness or expectation to pay for Martin's service.
Court found that the Martin was a volunteer.Therefore, Little may have been enriched, but not
unjustly. Martin's benefit was given more in the nature of a gift.
Court found that, "where circumstances are evident that one's work
effort has been voluntarily given to another, an intention to pay
therefore cannot be inferred."Basically, as a general rule, volunteers have no right to
restitution or compensation for their services.