Friday, February 22, 2008

Threshold of Services Required to Succeed in an Unjust Enrichment Claim

I have written a few posts about estate claims by family or friends who had provided care or other services to the now deceased person in the expectation that they would receive a substantial portion of the deceased’s estate. When those expectations have been disappointed, they have sued.

You can read a couple of posts about people who have been successful in this type of claim based on the principles of unjust enrichment here and here.

It is important to recognize though that not all estate claims for care or other services are successful. The courts in British Columbia require that the person making the claim establish that the amount of care or other services reach a minimum threshold to succeed.

For example, in Strudwick v. Morrison, (1996), 21 R.F.L. (4th) 185 (B.C.S.C), the court dismissed the Plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim against his step-mother’s estate. He had worked part-time as a teenager on his family’s farm. The Plaintiff’s father had left the farm to the Plaintiff’s step-mother. On her death, the step-mother left her estate to her own children. Mr. Justice Blair, while acknowledging that the result might be unfair to the Plaintiff, found that the Plaintiff’s contributions to the farm were not of sufficient consequence to support a successful unjust enrichment claim.

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