NH Law About... Unjust Enrichment

Introduction to... Unjust Enrichment

Posted December 9, 2016.

Unjust enrichment is where one person receives a benefit or financial advantage which he or she did not earn or deserve, at the expense or disadvantage of someone else.  Unjust enrichment is a common law (judicially created) rule which is based in equity and which promotes fairness in the resolution of cases. A very simple example is when you pay a bill and by mistake you pay $1,000 instead of the $100 you owe. The person you paid didn't do anything wrong, but he or she would be unjustly enriched by keeping the extra $900. There are many, many far more complicated examples that are described in the various resources listed below.

Restitution is a broad and flexible remedy for unjust enrichment cases. It provides an equitable solution, or a fair way, for courts to resolve a case of unjust enrichment. "Restitution is another word for restoration. […] Restitution can be in kind, in money, or it can be a blend of both. Through restitution parties can be restored to their original positions […] ." (Civil Remedies, see below).

We've listed quite a few cases below to illustrate some of the situations in which claims of unjust enrichment and restitution have arisen in New Hampshire.  Because unjust enrichment is such a broad and varied concept, the resources listed in this guide can give people materials for comparison to help them understand when the legal concept of unjust enrichment may apply to their particular legal problem. And, since a consultation with an attorney may be the best way to get the answer, a link to the NH Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service is also provided.

Please remember that this guide is for information purposes only and is not comprehensive. It is intended as a starting point for research, to illustrate the various sources of the law, and to provide guidance in their use. NH Law About ... is not a substitute for the services of an attorney. 


Read about... Unjust Enrichment


The Free Dictionary. Unjust enrichment  GO>

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

Wikipedia. Unjust enrichment  GO>

Link verified on: December 9, 2016


Civil remedies / by New Hampshire Bar Association. Concord, N.H. c1995  GO>

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

Contracts: The Essential Business Desk Reference / by Richard Stim. (Berkeley, Cal.: Nolo, 2016). Encyclopedia  GO>

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

Contracts in a Nutshell / by Claude D. Rohwer and Anthony M. Skrocki. 7th ed. (St. Paul, Minn.: West/Thomson 2010).   GO>

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

Remedies in a Nutshell / by William M. Tabb and Rachel M. Janutis. 2d ed. (St. Paul, Minn.: West/Thomson 2013)  GO>

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66 Am. Jur. 2d Restitution and Implied Contracts.  GO>

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Read the law about... Unjust Enrichment


121 N.H. 511 (1981). Morganroth & Associates v. Town of Tilton, (1981)

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The plaintiff, Morgenroth & Associates, Inc., seeks to recover from the defendants, the Towns of Tilton and Northfield and the State of New Hampshire, the cost of preparing engineering plans for the construction of sewerage systems in those towns.   GO>

122 N.H. 120 (1982). Petrie-Clemons v. Butterfield

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The defendant, Waldo Butterfield, appeals from a Superior Court (Mullavey, J.) order approving a master's report which recommended a $10,640 verdict for the plaintiffs, Peter and Susan Petrie-Clemons. The verdict, comprising two distinct awards, entitled the plaintiffs to recover damages for lost profits caused by the defendant's breach of contract, and an additional sum in quantum meruit, resulting from the defendant's unjust enrichment   GO>

146 N.H. 130 (2001). Kowalski v. Cedars of Portsmouth Condominium Association

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The plaintiff owns condominiums in the Cedars of Portsmouth Condominium complex, which is run by the defendant. The defendant offered a listing service for condominium owners who wanted to sell and rent units. A unit owner who used this service paid the defendant commissions or fees for the sale or rental of the unit. In 1997, the plaintiff, who had used this service, filed a complaint with the New Hampshire Real Estate Commission (commission) against the defendant, seeking return of fees that he had previously paid. The plaintiff then filed suit in district court alleging misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and violations of the Consumer Protection Act.   GO>

150 N.H. 427 (2003). In re Haller

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The petitioner, Gary F. Haller, appeals an order of the Superior Court (McGuire, J.) denying his request for a refund of child support payments from the New Hampshire Division of Child Support Services (division).   GO>

150 N.H. 655 (2004). Miller v. Slania Enters.

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The defendant, Slania Enterprises, Inc. (landlord), appeals a decision of the Durham District Court (Larson, J.) awarding damages to the plaintiff, Joseph Miller, as a result of an illegal eviction.   GO>

159 N.H. 206 (2006). Clapp v. Goffstown School Dist.

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The respondent, Goffstown School District (district), appeals an order of the Trial Court (Abramson, J.) granting the petitioner, Diane Clapp, restitution for the unjust enrichment of the district resulting from its failure to partially fund a pension on her behalf.   GO>

159 N.H. 601 (2010). General Insulation Co. v. Eckman Construction

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

The petitioner claims that the respondents did not pay for insulation and related materials it supplied to respondent R & H Enterprises d/b/a Advanced Insulation (Advanced Insulation) for a bonded project known as "Bedford Middle/High School Project" in Bedford.   GO>

Learn About New Hampshire Cases: New Hampshire case law consists of the published opinions of the New Hampshire Supreme Court. GO>


Civil No. 09-cv-405-JL, Opinion No. 2011 DNH 200. Fin Brand Positioning v. Take 2 Dough Productions, Inc

Link verified on: December 9, 2016

This case (like most) rises from a dispute over dough. Plaintiffs Martin and Julie Lapham, together with Martin's marketing company, Fin Brand Positioning, LLC, claim that defendants David and Dawn Tully and their company, Take 2 Dough Productions, Inc., agreed to share the ownership of a company that produced, marketed, and sold pizza dough at retail. Plaintiffs allege that defendants then breached that agreement and misappropriated intellectual property that plaintiffs had developed, including a special box that would rise with the dough while it proofed. The second amended complaint asserts claims for (1) unfair and deceptive trade practices, see N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 358-A; (2) breach of contract; (3) promissory estoppel; and (4) unjust enrichment. This court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) (diversity).   GO>


Lawyer Referral Service of the New Hampshire Bar Association.

Link verified on: April 21, 2017

Contact the Lawyer Referral Service at (603) 229-0002, or submit an online referral request. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM, and 9:00AM to 3:00 PM on Fridays.   GO>

New Hampshire Law Library

Link verified on: May 18, 2017

The state's only public law library. Call, email, or visit, we'll be happy to help.   GO>

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