Question: Are “quantum meruit” and “unjust enrichment” the same legal theory in the State of Indiana?
Answer: No. Indiana case law often uses the terms “quantum meruit” and “unjust enrichment” interchangeably. The two are discretely different, however, and the distinctions between them are instructive with respect to the question of the appropriate measure of damages. “The measure of recovery for services furnished or goods received depends on whether the claim is for unjust enrichment or quantum meruit.” Quantum meruit, for instance, is a claim or right of action for the reasonable value of services rendered, or as otherwise stated, the reasonable value of work and material provided by a contractor is the issue in a quantum meruit case. Whereas in an unjust-enrichment case, the inquiry focuses on the benefit realized and retained by the defendant as a result of the improvement provided by a contractor. Further, a careful reading of Indiana case law suggests that claims for unjust enrichment sound in the law of restitution, rather than the law of contract.