cause of action for money had and received

Texas elements for the cause of action for money had and received.

Cause Of Action for Money Had And Received

The cause of action for money had and received in Texas is a seldom used cause of action in our commercial collections practice because the majority of our matters are based on either written or oral contracts between parties or the supply of goods or services from one party to another during which a term or terms of the agreement between the parties is breached.

Money had and received is an equitable doctrine used to prevent unjust enrichment.  A cause of action for money had and received is not based on wrongdoing but instead, “looks only to the justice of the case and inquires whether the defendant has received money which rightfully belongs to another.”  Amoco Prod. Co. v. Smith, 946 S.W.2d 162, 164 (Tex.App.- El Paso 1997, no writ)(citing Greer v. White Oak State Bank, 673 S.W.2d 326 (Tex.App. – Texarkana 1984, no writ)).

The elements for the cause of action for money had and received are (1) the defendant holds money and (2) the money belongs to the plaintiff in equity and good conscience.  Staats v. Miller, 243 S.W.2d 686, 687-88 (Tex. 1951).  To prove a cause of action for money had and received, the plaintiff must show that the defendant holds money that in good conscience and equity belongs to the plaintiff, not whether any wrongdoing was committed on the part of the defendant.

Two examples of where a cause of action for money had and received would be in the situation where a plaintiff accidentally credits defendant’s account with money or inadvertently sends a check to the defendant.  In both cases, the defendant holds money that in equity and good conscience belongs to the defendant, not necessarily through any wrongdoing of the defendant.

In a cause of action for money had and received, the Plaintiff can recover actual damages, that is the amount of money the defendant holds that actually belongs to the plaintiff; exemplary damages when fraud and malice are shown; injunctive relief; interest; and court costs

If a party is holding money that belongs to you in equity and good conscience, you may have a cause of action for money had and received.  Please call our firm at 214-880-9988 in Dallas or, outside of Dallas, 800-589-1413 to speak with me or an another attorney at the law firm of Bristol & Dubiel LLP to discuss your case.  Connect with John Dubiel on Google+.  

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