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It's final - HICPA Will Not Bar A Claim for Quantum Meruit by a Contractor

As a follow up top my Blog post regarding the Superior Court's decision in Shafer Elec. v. Mantia, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has decided the issue, and affirmed the Superior Court's holding, albeit on slightly different grounds:

We granted allowance of appeal in this matter to determine whether the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, 73 P.S. §§ 517.1-517.18 (the Act), bars a contractor from recovery under a theory of quantum meruit in the absence of a valid and enforceable home improvement contract as defined by the Act. The Superior Court held that the Act does not bar a cause of action sounding in quantum meruit and, for the reasons that follow, we affirm that decision albeit on slightly different grounds.

Opinion, July 21, 2014. In essence, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has decided that the language of the Act itself allows for such a claim, particularly " ... that the plain, unambiguous language of Section 517.7(g) does not prohibit the cause of action in quantum meruit. This means that even if a home improvement contractor (as defined under HICPA) violates the law to the degree that a standard breach of contract claim may not be brought against a homeowner to enforce its contract, an action still lies to collect thevalue of the contractor's work.

The practical effect of this gives the contractor a claim, even if he did not fully comply with the law. But since he cannot sue for breach of contract, his remedy is limited to the value of the work performed for the homeowner, rather than lost profits on the job as well. The value of the work will usually require expert opinion, and these claims are more difficult to present in court than more straightforward breach of contract disputes. Nevertheless, unless the legislature acts to change the statue, a contract will not be completely barred from recovering for his work where he fails to comply with all of the HICPA requirements. Of course, he may face other problems, and so it is always best for all home improvement contractors to have their contract agreements reviewed to assure complaince with all of the statutory requirements.

Craig J. Fleischmann, Esquire