Mel Brooks in the movie History of the World: Part I (1981) said it best – “It’s good to be the King.” (See short movie clip.)
It’s also true when asserting claims against the State or an arm/agent of the State.
Whereas the State or a County may enter into contracts, their liability is limited solely to the terms of that contract. Similarly, liability of a contracting State is limited to breach of the contract and typically excludes claims or remedies outside the scope of the contract.
In a recent example, the Contractor agreed to make alterations and additions to a Public School’s facility. After delays and extra costs arose, the Contractor alleged two counts of breach of contract and one count each of unjust enrichment and quantum meruit. The Court dismissed the two latter counts by reviewing and applying the history and basis for the County’s sovereign immunity as an arm of the Commonwealth.
Contractors should style claims within the contract provisions. There is virtually no remedy against the State outside the contract. (See related post.)
Akian, Inc. and Penn. Nat’l. Mutual Casualty Ins. Co. v. Spotsylvania County Public Schools, 2018 Va. Cir. Lexis 329, CL18-2439 (Spotsylvania County Cir. Ct., Sep., 21, 2018).