Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Stark v. Parker case brief

Stark v. Parker case brief summary
19 Mass. (2 Pick.) 267 (1824)

The Court of Common Pleas (Massachusetts) rendered judgment for plaintiff employee in his action of indebitatus assumpsit to recover the balance due for services rendered on defendant employer's farm, the employer filed exceptions to a jury instruction.

The employee was hire to work on the employer's farm for one year for a stipulated sum. The employee quit his employment without reason before the year was over without the employer's consent. He then sued for the services he had rendered, arguing that because the employer had already paid the employee part of the amount owed, he could sue for the services performed. The employer objected to a jury instruction that allowed the employee to recover if the sum owed to him exceeded the amount by which the employer was damaged by the employee's desertion. The lower court found for the employee, but the court reversed and ordered a new trial.


  • The court found that the employee's service for one year on the farm was a condition precedent to his right to a portion of the stipulated compensation. 
  • While the contract was executory, the employee did not have a right to maintain an action for the agreed on amount of compensation. 
  • The employee was required to perform before he was entitled to recover under the contract. 
  • He could not renounce the contract and then recover on a claim of quantum meruit when he voluntarily deserted the job.

The court reversed the judgment for the employee and granted the employer a new trial.

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