Plaintiff contracted with the property owner to appeal property tax assessments against the property in return for which property owner agreed to pay the plaintiff 30% of any tax refund.  The tax appeals were successful, generating $140,000 in a reduction of the property owner’s delinquent taxes.  But by the time the taxes were reduced, the defendant had purchased the property at a foreclosure sale.  Defendant received the benefit of the tax reduction, not having to pay as much in back taxes.  Citing Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment section 25 and Kossian v. American Nat. Ins. Co. (1967) 254 Cal.App.2d 647, 650, this decision holds that plaintiff stated a viable claim for unjust enrichment.  Plaintiff rendered a contractual performance of which defendant received the benefit.  Making restitution would not force an exchange on the defendant, merely payment of part of the benefit it received from the reduction in its taxes.  Unless the defendant is required to pay, the plaintiff will not be compensated for its work.  Plaintiff and defendant had no understanding that the defendant would not pay.  And the defendant either actually knew or should have known of plaintiff’s involvement and the tax reduction at the time the defendant bought the property at the foreclosure sale.

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 8 (Grimes, J.); November 20, 2018; 29 Cal. App. 5th 230