Valentine v. General Am. Credit

420 Mich. 256, 362 N.W.2d 628 (1984)

 

RULE:

The general rule, with few exceptions, is to uniformly deny recovery for mental distress damages although they are foreseeable. The rule barring recovery of mental distress damages is fully applicable to an action for breach of an employment contract.

FACTS:

Plaintiff employee brought an action against defendant employer and claimed to recover mental distress and exemplary damages arising out of an alleged breach of an employment contract by defendant. Plaintiff alleged that she was entitled to job security and peace of mind associated with the contract. The trial court dismissed the mental distress and exemplary damage claims. On appeal, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Plaintiff sought review of the appellate court’s decision. The state supreme court affirmed the decisions of the lower courts.

ISSUE:

Could plaintiff employee, who was discharged in breach of an employment contract, recover mental distress damages?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Plaintiff could not recover mental distress damages for discharge in breach of plaintiff’s employment contract because plaintiff's employment contract was not entered into primarily to secure the protection of plaintiff’s personal interests, and because pecuniary damages could have been estimated with reasonable certainty. Although such damages were foreseeable, the law did not generally compensate for all losses suffered, the contract was formed to secure an economic interest, and the market place was the standard for assessing damages.

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