United States District Court, D. Vermont
ENTRY OF FINAL JUDGMENT AND AWARD OF COSTS
Christina Reiss, District Judge
Mansfield Heliflight, Inc. brought this action against
Defendant Freestream Aircraft USA, Ltd. alleging the
following state-law claims arising out of the purchase and
sale of a Gulfstream IV jet (the "Aircraft"):
fraudulent inducement, tortious interference with a contract,
tortious interference with a prospective business
relationship, civil conspiracy, and unjust enrichment.
a five-day trial held from July 12 through July 16, 2019, the
jury found in favor of Plaintiff on its claims of fraudulent
inducement, tortious interference with a contract, tortious
interference with a prospective business relationship, and
unjust enrichment, and in Defendant's favor on Plaintiffs
civil conspiracy claim. The jury awarded Plaintiff $420, 000
in restitution damages for the unjust enrichment claim, $800,
000 in compensatory damages, and $2, 440, 000 in punitive
damages, for a total award of $3, 660, 000.
22, 2019, the court issued an Entry Order requesting
supplemental briefing from the parties regarding whether the
jury's verdict on Plaintiffs unjust enrichment claim
should be vacated because there exists an adequate remedy at
law. On August 5, 2019, Plaintiff and Defendant each filed
supplemental briefing addressing this issue.
before the court is Plaintiffs August 5, 2019 motion for
entry of final judgment and award of prejudgment interest and
costs. (Doc. 161.) Plaintiff requests that the court enter an
order "reflecting the jury's award ($3, 660, 000)
plus prejudgment interest at the rate of twelve percent per
annum from October 28, 2015 up to the date of entry of
judgment, plus costs in the amount of $11, 249.87."
(Doc. 161 at 5.)
is represented by Jennifer E. McDonald, Esq., and Walter E.
Judge, Jr., Esq. Defendant is represented by Courtney R.
Rockett, Esq., Jack G. Stern, Esq., Jonathan R. Voegele,
Esq., Patrick J. Rohan, Esq., and Richard B. Drubel, Esq.
Whether to Award Plaintiff Damages for Unjust
requests that the court vacate Plaintiffs $420, 000 award for
unjust enrichment because Plaintiff has an adequate remedy at
law and cannot be allowed to recover twice for the same harm.
Alternatively, Defendant requests that the court reduce the
amount of the unjust enrichment verdict to $85, 000, which it
asserts is the net profit that Defendant received from the
sale of the Aircraft. Plaintiff asks the court to enter judgment
for the full amount awarded by the jury and argues that
equitable damages are permissible because compensatory
damages did not afford a complete remedy and because the
remedy at law and the equitable relief reflect two different
types of harm.
enrichment requires a party seeking equitable relief to
prove: '"(1) a benefit was conferred on defendant;
(2) defendant accepted the benefit; and (3) defendant
retained the benefit under such circumstances that it would
be inequitable for defendant not to compensate plaintiff for
its value.'" Kellogg v. Shushereba, 2013 VT
76, ¶ 31, 194 Vt. 446, 463, 82 A.3d 1121, 1133 (quoting
Center v. Mad River Corp., 561 A.2d 90, 93 (Vt.
1989)); JW, LLC v. Ayer, 2014 VT 71, ¶ 22, 197
Vt. 118, 129, 101 A.3d 906, 914 (observing that unjust
enrichment may be awarded in equity where '"[t]he
law implies a promise to pay [because] a party receives a
benefit and the retention of the benefit would be
inequitable.'") (alterations in original) (quoting
Cedric Elec, Inc. v. Shea, 477 A.2d be
inequitable.'") (alterations in original) (quoting
Cedric Elec, Inc. v. Shea, 472 A.2d 757, 757 (Vt.
1984) (per curiam)). "In determining whether a
quasi-contract should be implied under an equitable theory of
unjust enrichment, the inquiry is whether, in light of the
totality of the circumstances, equity and good conscience
demand that the defendant return that which the plaintiff
seeks to recover." Brookside Mem'ls, Inc. v.
Barre City, 702 A.2d 47, 50 (Vt. 1997).
a case involves both legal and equitable claims, the jury
verdict must come first, after which the court may issue
findings on the equitable claims that must be consistent with
the jury verdict." LeBlanc v. Snelgrove, 2015
VT 112, ¶ 39, 200 Vt. 570, 588, 133 A.3d 361, 373.
"In an action not triable of right by a jury, the court,
on motion or on its own[, ] . . . may try any issue with an
advisory jury[.]" Fed.R.Civ.P. 39(c); see also
Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Inc. v. Rushmore Photo & Gifts,
Inc., 908 F.3d 313, 343 (8th Cir. 2018) ("To bind
the district court's equitable powers, a jury's
findings must be on an issue 'common' to the
action's legal and equitable claims; otherwise, the court
is free to treat the jury's findings as 'merely
advisory' under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
remedies are available when there is not an adequate remedy
at law on the very subject in question." Wynkoop v.
Stratthaus, 2016 VT 5, ¶ 50, 201 Vt. 158, 183- 84,
136 A.3d 1180, 1196. "To be adequate the legal remedy
must be able to provide complete relief for the case before
the court and must be equally convenient, beneficial, and
effective." Id. at ¶ 18; see also
Moreau v. Sylvester, 2014 VT 31, ¶ 20, 196 Vt. 183,
193, 95 A.3d 416, 423 ("Equity will not afford relief
where there is a plain, adequate, and complete remedy at
law.") (citation omitted).
[B]efore a court's equitable jurisdiction is foreclosed
because of the availability of a legal remedy, the legal
remedy must be competent to afford relief on the very subject
matter in question, and be equally convenient, beneficial and
effective as the equitable remedy which would otherwise be
available. In other words, to be adequate the remedy at law
must be practical and as efficient to the ends of justice and
its prompt administration as the remedy in equity.
court recognized that "[i]n the event Plaintiffs
adequate recovery at law is established, Plaintiffs equitable
claims will be dismissed." Mansfield Heliflight,
Inc. v. Freestream Aircraft USA, Ltd., 2016 WL 7176586,
at *17 (D. Vt. Dec. 7, 2016). This result is mandated because
if a plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law "and the
main cause of action is of a legal nature, equity has no
jurisdiction." Gerety v. Poitras, 224 A.2d 919,
921 (Vt. 1966).
unjust enrichment claim does not require proof of a monetary
loss suffered by Plaintiff. See Restatement (Third)
of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment § 1 (2011) (noting
that unjust enrichment claims do not necessarily require
proof that "the claimant has suffered a loss");
see also Birchwood Land Co. v. Krizan,2015 VT 37,
¶ 9, 198 Vt. 420, 425, 115 A.3d 1009, 1012 ("We
frequently have adopted provisions of [the Restatement
(Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment] where our law
is undeveloped."). Instead, unjust enrichment addresses
the harm of benefiting from tortious behavior. See Weed
v. Weed,2008 VT 121, ¶ 17, 185 Vt. 83, 90, 968
A.2d 310, 315 ("[T]he equitable doctrine of unjust
enrichment rests upon the principle that a man shall not be
allowed to enrich himself unjustly at the expense of
another.") (citation omitted). It is not available,
however, "where it simply duplicates, or replaces, a
conventional contract or tort claim[.]" Corsello v.
Verizon New York, Inc.,967 N.E.2d 1177, 1185 (2012).
Because "a plaintiff is generally not permitted to