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TOWNSHIP RIDLEY v. PIPE MAINTENANCE SERVICES (06/29/84)

decided: June 29, 1984.

TOWNSHIP OF RIDLEY, APPELLANT
v.
PIPE MAINTENANCE SERVICES, INC., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in the case of Pipe Maintenance Services, Inc. v. Township of Ridley, No. 80-6810.

COUNSEL

Peter J. Rohana, Jr., for appellant.

Nicholas Guarente, for appellee.

Judges Rogers, Colins and Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 426]

The Township of Ridley has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County entering judgment against the township and in favor of the appellee, Pipe Maintenance Services, Inc. (PMS), in the amount of $103,643.53 plus interest, for materials and services expended on the township's sanitary and storm sewer systems.

On July 27, 1978, Ridley Township awarded PMS a contract for the performance of maintenance and repair work on the township's sewer systems.*fn1 The contract provided that the consideration for the work should not exceed $26,620. In September of 1979, heavy rains caused a creek in the township to overflow, resulting in "shin-deep" water on a public street named Quince Lane. Township officials directed PMS to examine and correct the Quince Lane situation, which it proceeded to do. By letter to the township dated October 3, 1979, PMS explained the steps it was taking to alleviate the problem and stated that "[w]ork so far completed as of September 28th, is estimated at between $31,000 to $32,000. . . . We respectfully request an advancement of $25,000 to offset

[ 83 Pa. Commw. Page 427]

    our expenses so far." The township authorized this payment and issued to PMS a $25,000 check, dated November 15, 1979, from its Capital Improvement Fund. The check was signed by four township officials and contained a memo stating that the payment was for "Partial Payment. Stream clearance, drainage repairs & restoration. Quince Lane." PMS thereafter completed its work on the Quince Lane project.

Between October and December of 1979, PMS submitted to the township bills totaling $103,643.53 for work it completed on various projects in pursuance of its contract with the township. The township refused payment and refused to acknowledge a debt to PMS for any sum greater than the $1,620 difference between the contract ceiling price of $26,620 and the $25,000 advanced by the township on the Quince Lane project.

In May of 1980, PMS brought an action in assumpsit against the township in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County seeking relief under the contract, or in the alternative, on a quasi-contract claiming unjust enrichment of the township. The trial court concluded that PMS could not recover the damages sought under the original contract because of the maximum price of $26,620 stated in that instrument; but that PMS had established a right of recovery in quantum meruit in the amount of $103,643.53 plus interest from December 28, 1979, which sum the court held reflected the fair and reasonable value of the labor and materials supplied.

The township first alleges that the trial court erred as matter of law in concluding that PMS had established a right to recover in quantum meruit.

The trial court based its conclusion that PMS was entitled to recover the sum claimed on the holding of J.A. & W.A. Hess ...


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