Britton v. Turner, 6 N.H. 481 (1834), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of New Hampshire that marked one of the first appearances of the contract law concept of guilty party restitution.[1]

Britton v. Turner
Seal of New Hampshire
Decided July 1, 1834
Full case nameIn the matter of David G. Blanchflower and Sian E. Blanchflower
Citation(s)6 N.H. 481 (1834)
Case history
Prior historyJury trial awarded $95 to the Plaintiff for services actually performed in pursuit of the contract.
Holding
A hired laborer is entitled to compensation for work actually performed unless there is an express stipulation to the contrary in the contract.
Court membership
Chief JusticeWilliam Richardson
Associate JusticesSamuel Green
Joel Parker
Nathaniel Gookin Upham
Case opinions
MajorityParker, joined by Richardson, Green, Upham

Factual background edit

The plaintiff made a one-year employment contract with the defendant for labor for one year, from some time in March 1831 to some time in March 1832. The employment contract specified that the plaintiff would be paid $120 at the end of the contract period. The plaintiff voluntarily left his employment on December 27, 1831. The defendant refused to pay the plaintiff, and the jury in the Court of Common Pleas awarded the plaintiff $95. The defendant appealed the jury verdict.[2]

Decision edit

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire upheld the jury verdict. The Court reasoned that barring the plaintiff from recovering for the work that he had done presented a disproportionate forfeiture. If the Court did not allow restitution, the employer using a similar contract would be motivated to drive away the employee by mistreatment at the end of the employment period to avoid paying anything. The Court determined that such an employment contract should be viewed as accepting part performance day by day and that the employer should compensate for the benefit received.[3]

References edit

  1. ^ Ayres, I. & Speidel, R.E. Studies on Contract Law, Seventh Edition. Foundation Press, New York: 2008, p. 855.
  2. ^ Ayres & Speidel, p. 856
  3. ^ Ayres & Speidel, p. 858