Matter of Estate of Zent

North Dakota Supreme Court

459 N.W.2d 795 (N.D. 1990)

In cases alleging implied-in-law contracts, there is no presumption of a gratuitous conferral of services.

Relevant Facts

Ann Johnson (the plaintiff) met John Zent and the two shared a personal relationship until Zent’s death in 1988. The plaintiff filed a claim against Zent’s estate (the defendant) for compensation for services that she rendered to Zent prior to his passing. The plaintiff testified, as a result of suffering from strokes and Alzheimer’s disease, that she became Zent’s house servant and nursemaid. Additionally, the plaintiff testified that Zent was physically incapacitated for the last three years of his life and mentally incapacitated for the last year. The plaintiff’s testimony was corroborated by Zent’s physician. The defendant disallowed the plaintiff's claim in its entirety. The plaintiff requested a hearing in county court, which found that there was no express or implied contract and no unjust enrichment. Additionally, the county court found that the plaintiff conferred her services gratuitously. The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the county court had erred in finding that there was no unjust enrichment or implied-in-law contract.

Issue

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Holding & Reasoning

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Concurrence

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Dissent

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Last updated:

December 12, 2020

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Procedural History

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Citations

459 N.W.2d 795 (N.D. 1990)