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Resurgence of Unjust Enrichment Claims: Pleading, Proof, Defenses; Measure of Recovery, Innocent Defendants

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Recorded event now available

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This CLE webinar will discuss proving or defending unjust enrichment claims, especially in situations where the plaintiff provided benefit to parties related to the defendant, but not directly to the defendant. The panel will review scenarios where unjust enrichment claims are most likely to arise, the most frequently seen categories of defendants, practical defenses, and more.


Unjust enrichment is not a law school relic. Unjust enrichment claims are complex and require extensive and specific proof. They can produce gigantic verdicts. Not long ago, Harvard Law Review devoted significant space (Vol. 133, No. 6) to unjust enrichment and "its recent resurgence." The 2023 edition of The Comprehensive Guide to Economic Damages has three chapters on it, and in 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a $140 million jury award for unjust enrichment and a circuit split over the appropriate measure of damages.

Unjust enrichment may be most useful against third parties. Damages are the value of the benefit conferred/received, which can exceed actual damage to the plaintiff and allow the plaintiff to avoid disclosing sensitive information since the focus is on the defendant. Plaintiffs usually do not need to prove that the defendant was culpable. Post-closing suits against innocent shareholders or corporate affiliates can proceed based on misrepresentations of others or against co-victims of Ponzi schemes in certain situations.

Unjust enrichment damages can be huge if the benefit the plaintiff provided is kneaded into the defendant's business, such as construction materials; theft or misuse of intellectual property, trade secrets, business opportunities, and the like; business divorces; breach of fiduciary duty cases; property division in divorces; elder abuse; and more.

Listen as this experienced panel discusses the risks and rewards of properly pleading and proving or defending unjust enrichment.



  1. Overview of unjust enrichment
  2. Elements of the claim
  3. Measuring damages
  4. Evidence and burdens of proof
  5. Defenses
  6. Strategies to maximize or minimize recovery


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • When do unjust enrichment damages offer a greater recovery for the plainitff?
  • How do plaintiffs obtain proof of benefit to the defendant and what risks do defendants face in discovery?
  • How is benefit measured or calculated with respect to an "enterprise"?
  • Can parties seek future unjust enrichment damages?


Curhan, Dana
Dana A. Curhan

Curhan Law Office

Mr. Curhan is a graduate of Columbia College and Harvard Law School. He has been an appellate lawyer for more than 33...  |  Read More

Harris, Marcus
Marcus S. Harris

Taft Stettinius & Hollister

Mr. Harris has significant experience drafting and negotiating Enterprise Software related license, implementation and...  |  Read More

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