United States District Court, D. Utah
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING LOGIX'S
MOTION FOR JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW
N. Parrish, United States District Court Judge
the court is a motion brought by Logix Communications, L.P.
far a judgment as a matter of law. [Docket 215]. The court
DENIES the motion.
entered into a service agreement contract with Stake Center
Locating, Inc. Under the contract, Stake Center would locate
underground utility lines for Logix for a set price for each
locating service provided. Stake Center was required to
provide monthly invoices for the services it provided. Stake
Center delivered the agreed upon services for a period of
sixteen months, but failed to submit the required monthly
invoices during this period of time. Upon discovering its
error, Stake Center submitted an invoice for the entire
period. Logix refused to pay.
Center sued Logix for breach of contract and, alternatively,
for restitution for the uncompensated services as unjust
enrichment. Logix asserted various defenses in its answer,
including that Stake Center's material breach of the
contract excused its obligation to pay for the services
provided. It also asserted a counterclaim for breach of
contract based upon Stake Center's failure to submit
monthly invoices. As damages, Logix asserted that it was
entitled to the difference between the amount billed and the
cost of the same services if they had been billed at a more
reasonable, high-volume rate.
court concluded as a matter of law that Stake Center breached
the contract by failing to submit monthly invoices. The court
further ruled that the question of whether the breach was
material was for the jury to decide.
trial, the jury found that Stake Center's breach was
material, excusing Logix's contractual obligation to pay
for the services Stake Center provided. But the jury also
found that Stake Center was entitled to relief on its unjust
enrichment claim and awarded it $700, 000 as the reasonable
value of the utility line location services that it provided.
has moved for a judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Rule
50(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. “A party
is entitled to judgment as a matter of law ‘only if the
evidence points but one way and is susceptible to no
reasonable inferences which may support the opposing
party's position.'” Hysten v. Burlington N.
Santa Fe Ry. Co., 530 F.3d 1260, 1269 (10th Cir. 2008)
(citation omitted). In evaluating the evidence to determine
whether judgment as a matter of law is appropriate, a court
must not “weigh evidence, judge witness credibility, or
challenge the factual conclusions of the jury.”
Id. (citation omitted).
argues that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law
because Stake Center failed to produce evidence of the
reasonable value of the underground utility line locating
services it provided. See Jones v. Mackey Price Thompson
& Ostler, 355 P.3d 1000, 1017 (Utah 2015) (the
proper measure of unjust enrichment damages is generally the
“reasonable value” of the services provided).
Logix concedes that Stake Center entered the service contract
into evidence and that a contract fixing the price of a
service may serve as evidence of the reasonable value of the
services provided, even if the contract is unenforceable.
Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment
§ 49 cmt. g (2011) (“[E]ven an unenforceable
contract may serve to establish value for restitution
purposes, if the grounds of unenforceability do not draw into
question the validity of the parties' agreement as to
price.”). But Logix asserts that the service contract
has no evidentiary value because the parties assumed that
Stake Center would provide a low volume of work rather than
the high volume of work that it actually provided.
assuming that the contract price was for low-volume work and
that the reasonable value of the high-volume work was less
than the contract price, Logix has not shown that there are
“no reasonable inferences” that could be drawn
from the evidence presented at trial to support the amount of
damages awarded by the jury. See Hysten, 530 F.3d at
1269. The question of how much to award in damages (or in
this case, unjust enrichment) is not a multiple choice test
in which the jury choses among three or four numbers
presented by experts or attorneys. The jury is given great
latitude to fix the proper amount of a damage award. See
TruGreen Companies, L.L.C. v. Mower Bros., Inc., 199
P.3d 929, 932. All that is required to support a jury's
damage award is “evidence that rises above speculation
and provides a reasonable, even though not necessarily
precise, estimate of damages.” Id. at 932-33
(citation omitted). “Where damages are appropriate but
difficult to prove the law eschews the necessity of
mathematical exactitude. . . . ‘[A]ll that can be
required is that the evidence, with such certainty as the
nature of the particular case may permit, lay a foundation
which will enable the trier to make a fair and reasonable
estimate.'” Hartford Whalers Hockey Club v.
Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co., 649 A.2d 518, 523 (Conn.
1994) (citation omitted).
jury in this case was not left to speculate on the reasonable
value of the locating services provided. If it believed that
the reasonable value of the services provided by Stake Center
included a high-volume discount, the jury could properly use
the contract price as a starting point and reasonably
estimate a discounted value from there. Because a reasonable
inference could be drawn from the contract price, there was
sufficient evidence to support the amount of unjust
enrichment awarded. Therefore, Logix's motion for a
judgment as a matter of law fails.
court DENIES Logix's motion for a judgment as a matter ...