The elements of an unjust enrichment claim are: 1) “[a] benefit conferred upon the defendant by the plaintiff”; 2) “appreciation by the defendant of such benefit”; and 3) “acceptance of such benefit under such circumstances that it would be inequitable for him to retain the benefit without payment of the value thereof.” Paschall’s, Inc., 407 S.W.2d at 155. The most significant requirement of an unjust enrichment claim is that the benefit to the defendant be unjust. Id.; Whitehaven Cmty. Baptist Church, 973 S.W.2d at 596. The plaintiff must further demonstrate that he or she has exhausted all remedies against the person with whom the plaintiff enjoyed privity of contract. Paschall’s, Inc., 407 S.W.2d at 155; Whitehaven Cmty. Baptist Church, 973 S.W.2d at 596.
A plaintiff need not be in privity with a defendant to recover under a claim of unjust enrichment. See Paschall’s, Inc., 407 S.W.2d at 154. Thus, Freeman may bring a cause of action for unjust enrichment against the defendants even though Freeman did not purchase the items containing sorbates directly from the defendants. The defendants, however, contend that Freeman must establish that it conferred a direct benefit, rather than an indirect or incidental benefit, upon the defendants. A benefit is any form of advantage that has a measurable value including the advantage of being saved from an expense or loss. Lawrence Warehouse Co. v. Twohig, 224 F.2d 493, 498 (8th Cir.1955). The underlying principle of the doctrine of unjust enrichment is that a party who receives a benefit that he or she desires, under circumstances rendering retention of the benefit without providing compensation inequitable, must compensate the provider of the benefit. Paschall’s, Inc., 407 S.W.2d at 154. In accordance with this underlying principle, we conclude that to recover for unjust enrichment, a plaintiff need not establish that the defendant received a direct benefit from the plaintiff. Rather, a plaintiff may recover for unjust enrichment against a defendant who receives any benefit from the plaintiff if the defendant’s retention of the benefit would be unjust. Our conclusion is consistent with other jurisdictions that have also concluded that the benefit received by a defendant need not be direct to establish an unjust enrichment claim. See, e.g., Hirsch v. Bank of Am., 107 Cal.App.4th 708, 132 Cal.Rptr.2d 220, 229 (2003) (holding that to confer a benefit, the plaintiff need not pay the money directly to the defendant); HPI Health Care Servs., Inc. v. Mt. Vernon Hosp., Inc., 131 Ill.2d 145, 137 Ill.Dec. 19, 545 N.E.2d 672, 679 (1989) (permitting recovery of a benefit transferred to the defendant by a third party where the third party mistakenly gave the benefit to the defendant instead of the plaintiff, where the defendant procured the benefit from the third party through wrongful conduct, or where the plaintiff’s claim to the benefit is superior to the defendant’s claim); State ex rel. Palmer v. Unisys Corp., 637 N.W.2d 142, 155 (Iowa 2001) (concluding that “benefits can be direct or indirect, and can involve benefits conferred by third parties”).
Freeman Industries, LLC v. Eastman Chemical Co. 172 S.W.3d 512, 525 (Tenn.,2005)