Erlich v. Menezes
Supreme Court of California
August 23, 1999, Decided
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.
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.
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.
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.Access the full text caseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.
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:  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.