Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Martin v. Little, Brown & Co. case brief

Martin v. Little, Brown & Co. case brief summary
450 A.2d 984 (Super.Pa. 1981)

Appellant reader challenged the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County (Pennsylvania), which sustained appellee publisher's preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer and held no contract existed between the parties and that appellant was not entitled to recovery on quantum meruit.

Appellant reader advised appellee publisher that the authors of a later book had plagiarized portions of a paperback publication. Upon learning that appellee had agreed with his assertions and was pursuing a claim of copyright infringement, he demanded compensation for his services. Appellee denied that it had contracted with appellant or was otherwise obligated to compensate appellant for his work. Appellant filed suit to recover one-third of the recovery effected by appellee.


  • The court held the facts alleged in the complaint were insufficient to have established a contractual relationship between appellant and appellee. 
  • The facts disclosed a submission of information from appellant to appellee without any discussion pertaining to appellee's payment therefor. 
  • There was no basis upon which to have inferred the existence of a unilateral contract. 
  • Appellant was a volunteer and could not properly be reimbursed for unjust enrichment. 
  • The mere threat of a legal counterclaim by appellee did not satisfy the strict standard required for a case of outrageous conduct.

The court affirmed and held there was no contractual relationship between the parties and as a volunteer appellant reader had no claim for unjust enrichment against appellee publisher.

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