Pinches v. Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church

Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut, 1887.

55 Conn. 183, 10 A. 264.

Dawson, pp. 121-122


Facts: The plaintiff built a church for the defendant.  It wasn’t exactly the way the defendant wanted it, but it was good enough to be beneficial to the defendant.  The defendant refused to pay, and the plaintiff sued.


Issue: Can the plaintiff recover for the services rendered and value of the materials if he violated the contract by good faith mistake?


Rule: The plaintiff is entitled to the contract price less the diminution of value of the church due to the plaintiff’s departure from the agreed-upon specifications.


Analysis: The church gives value to the defendants.  To fix it and make it in compliance with the contract would cost so much that the plaintiff would not get any compensation.  However, the court thinks the plaintiff is entitled to restitution, because otherwise the church will have a benefit while the plaintiff will have a hole in his pocket.


Conclusion: The court upheld the trial court’s verdict.

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