The Second Department, reversing (modifying) the Court of Claims, determined the quantum meruit cause of action should have been dismissed because the action was based upon a valid contract:
Contrary to the conclusion of the Court of Claims, that branch of the State’s motion which was for summary judgment dismissing the eleventh cause of action, which sought damages based upon a “total cost,” or quantum meruit, method of recovery, should have been granted, on the ground that parties to a valid contract cannot seek damages in quantum meruit as an alternative to a breach of contract claim arising out of the same subject matter … . Quantum meruit may be pleaded in the alternative where there is a bona fide dispute as to the existence of a contract, or where the contract does not cover the dispute in issue … . Here, there clearly was a valid contract, and the amount in dispute was incurred pursuant to the contract. Further, the claims did not involve a qualitative change in the nature of the work which was outside the contemplation of the contract … . Tutor Perini Corp. v State of New York, 2022 NY Slip Op 05556, Second Dept 10-5-22
Practice Point: Although a quantum meruit cause of action may be pled as an alternative to a breach of contract cause of action, it must be dismissed if the underlying issues are addressed by a contract found to be valid.