With Herrmann in-house and retired (from blogging, at least), only one of us is currently a member of the American Law Institute (“ALI”). That said, Bexis headed down to DC yesterday to attend the ALI’s annual meeting.
With the Aggregate Litigation Project now done, we’re finding the Institute’s meetings less white-knuckle than they used to be – but that’s not to say that they’re boring. Rather, there’s always something interesting going on when the ALI gets together.
Which means there’s something worthwhile to blog about.
This time it was the wrapping up of another ALI project – one that’s been going on for over a decade (since 1997) – the Restatement (Third) of Restitution and Unjust Enrichment. The last part of this project was brought to a final vote yesterday. It passed. True, the ALI grinds slowly, but its final product is finer than anything you’ll find just about anywhere.
One of the things that means is that a lot of the … umm, that’s quite a mouthful so we’ll just call it the “R3RUE” for short … was finished well before Bexis ever joined the ALI. Talk about being late to the party. But not knowing what went on has never stopped Bexis from putting his two cents in before, and it didn’t this time.
That last chunk of the R3RUE that was up for discussion included “defenses to restitution” – leading off with the most basic: §62 entitled “Recipient Not Unjustly Enriched.” This defense was described in the draft:
The defense stated in §62 may appear redundant. If a well-pleaded complaint alleges unjust enrichment, it must be a proper answer (and not an affirmative defense) to plead “no unjust enrichment.” . . .[T]he practical application of the present rule is to a more limited class of cases. These arise when the claimant alleges facts supporting a prima facie claim in unjust enrichment . . . but the recipient is able to show that the resulting enrichment is not unjust, in view of the larger transactional context in which the benefit has been conferred.
R3RUE §62, comment a, Tentative Draft No. 7 (March 10, 2010).
That got us (well, Bexis) interested when he read it on the train down to DC early yesterday morning. There’s a set of recent cases in prescription drug product liability litigation that seem to fit into the pattern described in this part of the R3RUE.