This section is from the book "The Law Of Contracts", by William Herbert Page. Also available from Amazon: Commercial Contracts: A Practical Guide to Deals, Contracts, Agreements and Promises.
If one person performs work and labor for another of a sort for which compensation is customary, intending to charge therefor, and the person for whom the work is done either has requested expressly or impliedly, before the doing of such work, that it should be done, or after it was done, has voluntarily accepted the benefits arising therefrom, the person for whom the work is done, is liable to the person who does it.1 If there is an express contract for doing the work, the rights of the parties are controlled by the rules on the subject of express contracts already discussed. If there is no express contract since this liability exists by reason of a genuine though not an express agreement, it is a genuine implied contract.2 If the services are rendered at the request of the person for whom they are rendered, an implied promise on his part to make reasonable compensation therefor exists if no express contract has been made.3 So, where a board of health directs one of its members to inspect a case of diphtheria, and such services are not within the official duty of the member of such board, the person rendering such services may recover a reasonable compensation therefor.4 Where a director of a corporation, at the request of the board of directors, attends to obtaining a right of way, and in doing so does work outside of his official duty as director, the corporation is liable to him for reasonable compensation.5 So, where A acted as body servant and nurse for B for several years, and B without making any express contract for paying A any certain amount of wages, had promised to provide for him handsomely, A was allowed to recover a reasonable compensation for work done by him for B.6 If an attorney renders services without any express agreement as to the amount of compensation therefor, he is entitled to recover a reasonable compensation for the work done.7 A previous request made by A to B, to perform services for A makes A liable therefor even though he does not make an express promise to pay B therefor.8 Thus where a managing editor is requested by the editor in chief to do the work of the latter a promise on the part of the editor in chief to pay him is implied.9 A request for work so made as to show that the party making it does not intend compensation therefor creates no implied liability. Thus A owned a building which was being erected for him by B, the chief contractor. X, a subcontractor, was doing the plastering under his contract with B. X plastered one room which he claimed that B was not bound by his contract with A to have plastered. A knew that he was plastering such room and demanded that he plaster it, claiming that B was bound by his contract with A to have it plastered. Even if A was wrong in his contention, he was not liable to X on an implied contract.10
1 Lafayette Ry. Co. v. Tucker, 124 Ala. 514; 27 So. 447; Nichols v. Vinson, 9 Houst. (Del.) 274; 32 Atl. 225; Palmer v. Miller, 19 Ind. App. 624; 49 N. E. 975; Baxter v. Knox (Ky.), 44 S. W. 972; Day v. Caton, 119 Mass. 513; 20 Am. Rep. 347; Eggleston v. Boardman, 37 Mich. 14; Courier, etc., Co. v. Wilson (Neb.), 90 N. W. 1120; Gnich-tel v. Jewell, 59 N. J. Eq. 651; 44 Atl. 1099; affirming 41 Atl. 227; Bonynge v. Field, 81 N. Y. 159.
2"Where, in the absence of an express contract, valuable services are rendered by one person to another which are knowingly accepted, the law will imply a promise to pay a fair and reasonable compensation for such services." McFarland v. Dawson, 125 Ala. 428, 432; 29 So. 74
327; citing Hood v. League, 102 Ala. 228; 14 So. 572; Wood v. Brewer, 66 Ala. 570.
3 Spearman v. Texarcana, 58 Ark. 348; 22 L. R. A. 855; 24 S. W. 883; Clark v. Clark, 46 Conn. 586; Lockwood v. Robbins, 125 Ind. 398; 25 N. E. 455; Wadleigh v. McDowell, 102 la. 480; 71 N. W. 336; Coleman v. Simpson, 2 Dana (Ky.) 166; Blaisdell v. Gladwin, 4 Cush. (Mass.) 373; Ten Eyck v. R. R., 74 Mich. 226; 16 Am. St. Rep. 633; 3 L. R. A. 378; 41 N. W. 905; Ryans v. Haspes, 167 Mo. 342; 67 S. W. 285; Emery v. Cobbey, 27 Neb. 621; 43 N. W. 410; Masterson v. Mas-terson, 121 Pa. St. 605; 15 Atl. 652; Miller v. Tracy, 86 Wis. 330; 56 N. W. 866.
4 Spearman v. Texarcana, 58 Ark. 348; 22 L. R. A. 855; 24 S. W. 883.
5 Ten Eyck v. R. R., 74 Mich. 226; 16 Am. St. Rep. 633; 3 L. R. A. 378; 41 N. W. 905. A subsequent fair and reasonable agreement between such director and the board of directors, fixing the amount of such compensation, is therefore enforceable.
6 Ryans v. Haspes, 167 Mo. 342) 67 S. W. 285. In such action, sums of money given by B to A as gratuities cannot be deducted from the amount which A should recover.
7 Miller v. Tracy, 86 Wis. 330; 56 N. W. 866. If he is retained by an administrator to do work for the estate he may recover from the administrator personally.
8 Weeks v. North Sidney, 26 N. S. 396; Spearman v. Texarcana, 58 Ark. 348; 22 L. R. A. 855; 24 S. W. 883; Sonoma County v. Santa Rosa, 102 Cal. 426; 36 Pac. 810; Ten Eyck v. R. R., 74 Mich. 226; 16 Am. St. Rep. 633; 3 L. R. A. 378; 41 N. W. 905; Blaisdell v. Gladwin, 4 Cush. (Mass.) 373; Schwab v. Pierro, 43 Minn. 520; 46 N. W. 71; Pangborn v. Phelps, 63 N. J. L. 346; 43 Atl. 977; Fuller v. Mowry, 18 R. I. 424; 28 Atl. 606; Bonner v. Bradley, 14 Tex. Civ. App. 234; 36 S. W. 1014; Isham v. Parker, 3 Wash. 755; 29 Pac. 835.
9 Pangborn v. Phelps, 63 N. J. L. 346; 43 Atl. 977.