MCFADDEN, P. J., BRANCH and BETHEL, JJ.
MCFADDEN, PRESIDING JUDGE.
appeal challenges a final judgment, entered after a bench
trial, in favor of the defendant as to the plaintiff's
quantum meruit and unjust enrichment claims. Because the
trial court's findings of fact were supported by some
evidence and there has been no showing of legal error, we
reviewing a bench trial, we view the evidence in the light
most favorable to the trial court's rulings, defer to the
trial court's credibility judgments, and will not set
aside the trial court's factual findings unless they are
clearly erroneous." Gibson v. Gibson, 301 Ga.
622, 624 (801 S.E.2d 40) (2017) (citations omitted).
viewed, the evidence shows that Ecaterina Csachi rented a
room in her house to Adrian Sitterli. Thereafter, Sitterli
married Csachi's daughter, who also moved into the house.
While Csachi was on a trip out of the country, Sitterli began
making renovations to Csachi's house. Csachi told
Sitterli that she could not pay for renovations, but
indicated that after her death the house would belong to her
daughter and Sitterli. Sitterli did further work on the
house, but he and Csachi's daughter later divorced. The
daughter moved out of the house, while Sitterli continued
living there for several months.
subsequently filed a dispossessory action against Sitterli in
magistrate court, and Sitterli counterclaimed for the value
of the alleged improvements made to the property. The
dispossessory action was resolved when Sitterli moved out of
the house and the magistrate court issued a writ of
possession, and his counterclaim was then transferred to
superior court. After a bench trial, the superior court
entered final judgment in favor of Csachi on the quantum
meruit and unjust enrichment claims of Sitterli. The trial
court denied Sitterli's motion for new trial, and this
argues that the trial court erred in finding that he had not
satisfied an essential element for his quantum meruit claim.
The essential elements of a claim of quantum meruit are that
the provider performed services valuable to the recipient
that were requested by or knowingly accepted by the
recipient, that the recipient's receipt of the services
without compensating the provider would be unjust, and
that the provider expected compensation at the time the
services were performed.
One Bluff Drive, LLC v. K. A. P., Inc., 330 Ga.App.
45, 47 (1) (766 S.E.2d 508) (2014) (citations omitted;
emphasis supplied). Here, the trial court found that Sitterli
had made improvements to Csachi's house for his own
benefit and had failed to show that he expected compensation
at the time those renovations were made. There was evidence
to support these findings, including testimony that Csachi
had told Sitterli that she did not have money to pay for the
renovations, that Sitterli had no agreement with Csachi to
make improvements to the house, and that Sitterli made the
improvements to benefit himself and his former wife.
arguing otherwise, Sitterli cites Terrell v.
Pippart, 314 Ga.App. 483 (724 S.E.2d 802) (2012), for
the proposition that an expectation of receiving an ownership
interest in realty satisfies the expectation of compensation
element of a quantum meruit claim. In Terrell, this
court found that there was some evidence to support a
jury's award on a quantum meruit claim where there was
testimony that the plaintiff expected compensation in the
form of joint ownership of a house he was building.
Id. at 484 (1). That finding in Terrell
does not control the instant case, which sits in the exact
opposite procedural posture. That is, rather than looking for
any evidence to support a verdict and judgment for the
plaintiff as in Terrell, in this case we are
reviewing a bench trial judgment in favor of the defendant.
Thus, while there was some evidence to support the
plaintiff's verdict in Terrell, that case does
not mandate that the trial court in the instant case, sitting
as the finder of fact, was obligated to find that Sitterli
had satisfied the expectation of compensation element for his
particular claim. "At a bench trial, the trial court can
determine when essential facts have not been proved. The
trial court's determination as a trier of fact will be
reversed only where the evidence demands a contrary
finding." Smith v. Ga. Kaolin Co., 269 Ga. 475,
476 (1) (498 S.E.2d 266) (1998) (citations and punctuation
omitted). Even if the evidence was in conflict, because there
was some evidence supporting the trial court's finding
that Sitterli had not shown an expectation of compensation at
the time of the services rendered, the evidence does not
demand a contrary finding and we must affirm the trial
court's judgment. See DeNapoli v. Owen, 341
Ga.App. 517, 518 (801 S.E.2d 314) (2017) (on appeal from
entry of judgment following a bench trial, we defer to any
factual findings made by that court if there is any evidence
to sustain them).
enumerates that the trial court erred in ruling that his
unjust enrichment claim required a showing that he had an
expectation that Csachi would be responsible for the
remodeling costs. The enumeration is without merit.
enrichment is an equitable concept and applies when as a
matter of fact there is no legal contract, but when the party
sought to be charged has been conferred a benefit by the
party contending an unjust enrichment which the benefitted
party equitably ought to return or compensate for."
Estate of Crook v. Foster, ...