Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable Gail Hagerty, Judge.
Derrick L. Braaten (argued) and Caitlin C. Lock Coomes (appeared), Bismarck, N.D., for plaintiff and appellee.
Thomas M. Jackson, Bismarck, N.D., for defendant and appellant.
Carol Ronning Kapsner, Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, William A. Herauf, D.J., Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. Opinion of the Court by Kapsner, Justice. The Honorable William A. Herauf, D.J., sitting in place of Sandstrom, J., disqualified.
[¶1] Allen Kraft appeals from a district court judgment dissolving a partnership and dismissing his counterclaim seeking damages for breach of an oral agreement. We affirm, concluding the district court did not err in refusing to instruct the jury on the equitable theories of unjust enrichment or quantum meruit and did not abuse its discretion in granting a motion in limine precluding evidence or argument of unjust enrichment or quantum meruit.
[¶2] Kraft and Jim Kost operated a custom combining partnership. They ceased doing business as a partnership in early 2003, but continued to share equipment and work in 2003 and 2004. In 2008, Kost sued Kraft to formally dissolve the partnership. Kraft counterclaimed for breach of contract, alleging that after the partnership was terminated in 2003, Kost had orally agreed to lease some of Kraft's combining equipment in 2003 and 2004. Kraft alleged Kost owed $150,000 under the oral lease. Kraft also claimed that the parties had entered into an oral agreement for Kraft to do certain work for Kost in 2005, and that Kost owed him $10,000 for the work.
[¶3] The district court granted summary judgment dismissing Kraft's counterclaim. The remaining claims were tried to a jury, and judgment was entered dissolving the partnership and distributing proceeds from an auction sale of certain equipment. Kraft appealed from the judgment, challenging the dismissal of his counterclaim. This Court reversed the judgment and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that disputed issues of material fact remained about application of the statute of frauds to the claimed oral agreements. See Kost v. Kraft, 2011 ND 69, 795 N.W.2d 712.
[¶4] On remand, Kraft submitted a pretrial brief raising the equitable issue of quantum meruit. In response, Kost filed a motion in limine requesting that the district court exclude all evidence or argument regarding quantum meruit or unjust enrichment. The district court granted the motion by written order, stating:
Jim Kost has requested the Court exclude evidence relating to a claim for Quantum Meruit or unjust enrichment. I have reviewed all of the pleadings in this matter, and Allen Kraft has not stated a claim for Quantum Meruit or unjust enrichment. At this point in the litigation, it would not be reasonable to expect to add a claim. This matter was remanded by the Supreme Court with clear directions concerning the issues to be tried.
The breach of contract issues raised in Kraft's counterclaim were tried to a jury, which found Kraft had not proved he suffered damages ...