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Erlich v. Menezes

Supreme Court of California

August 23, 1999, Decided

No. S068325.

Case Summary

Procedural Posture

Appellant contractor sought review of a decision of the Court of Appeals, (California) that upheld a an award of emotional distress damages to appellees in a construction breach of contract action.

Overview

Appellees, husband and wife, contracted with appellant general contractor to build their "dream house" on their ocean-view lot. After appellees moved in, it rained and the house had severe leaks. Appellant's effort's to remedy the situation were to no avail. It turned out that the home was structurally unsound, as well, after the home was inspected by another general contractor and a structural engineer. The husband suffered severe emotional distress and developed a permanent heart condition, as a result. At trial, appellees were awarded emotional distress damages along with compensatory damages. The appellate court affirmed. The court reversed and remanded holding that the available damages for defective construction are limited to the cost of repairing the home, or the diminution in value; and emotional distress damages in connection with property damages are not compensable.

Outcome

The award of emotional distress damages to appellees was reversed. The court held that emotional distress damages in connection with property damages are not compensable; and the available damages for defective construction are limited to the cost of repairing the home, or the diminution in value.

LexisNexis® Headnotes

 

 

Contracts Law > Breach > Breach of Contract Actions > General Overview

Contracts Law > ... > Types of Damages > Compensatory Damages > General Overview

HN1  Breach, Breach of Contract Actions

In an action for breach of contract, the measure of damages is the amount which will compensate the party aggrieved for all the detriment proximately caused thereby, or which, in the ordinary course of things, would be likely to result therefrom, Cal. Civ. Code § 3300, provided the damages are clearly ascertainable in both their nature and origin. Cal. Civ. Code § 3301.

 

Torts > Remedies > Damages > General Overview

HN2  Remedies, Damages

In an action not arising from contract, the measure of damages is the amount which will compensate for all the detriment proximately caused thereby, whether it could have been anticipated or not. Cal. Civ. Code § 3333.

 

Contracts Law > ... > Measurement of Damages > Foreseeable Damages > General Overview

HN3  Measurement of Damages, Foreseeable Damages

Contract damages are generally limited to those within the contemplation of the parties when the contract was entered into or at least reasonably foreseeable by them at that time; consequential damages beyond the expectation of the parties are not recoverable.

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21 Cal. 4th 543 ; 981 P.2d 978 ; 87 Cal. Rptr. 2d 886 ; 1999 Cal. LEXIS 5530 ; 99 Daily Journal DAR 8687; 99 Cal. Daily Op. Service 6808

BARRY ERLICH et al., Plaintiffs and Respondents, v. JOHN MENEZES, Defendant, Cross-complainant and Appellant; RON REBALDO et al., Cross-defendants and Respondents.

Prior History:  [1]  Superior Court of San Luis Obispo County. Super. Ct. No. CV70302. Paul H. Coffee, Judge, and Jay R. Ballantyne, Judge.

Disposition: The judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.