Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pyeatte v. Pyeatte case brief

Pyeatte v. Pyeatte case brief summary
135 Ariz. 346

SYNOPSIS: Appellant husband sought review of the decision of the Superior Court for Yavapai County (Arizona), which awarded judgment of $ 23,000 in favor of appellee wife as damages for breach of contract, with additional directions that the judgment be payable through the court clerk on a quarterly basis in a sum of not less than ten percent of the husband's net quarterly income.

FACTS: The husband and wife agreed she would put him through law school without his having to work, and when he finished, he would put her through for her masters degree without her having to work. However, after he finished law school but before she started her master's program, he divorced her. Although the court found that the agreement was not an enforceable contract, the court held that the agreement had importance in considering wife's claim for unjust enrichment because it both evidenced her expectation of compensation and the circumstances which made it unjust to allow the husband to retain the benefits of her efforts.

The court held that the wife was entitled to restitution because she conferred benefits on the husband (financial subsidization of his legal education) with the agreement and expectation that she would be compensated therefor by his reciprocal efforts after his graduation and admission to the bar.

The husband left the marriage with the only valuable asset acquired during the marriage (his legal education and qualification to practice law). The court held it would be inequitable to allow the husband to retain the benefit without making restitution to wife.

OUTCOME: The portion of the judgment in the amount of $ 23,000 was reversed and remanded for proceedings in accordance with the court's opinion.

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