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Emotional Distress Damages for Breach of Contract

The provision of personal care services abounds in our society.  Many of these situations involves the delivery of various services to children, the elderly and to the intellectually disabled or challenged at daycare and assisted living facilities.  This has become “big business” in Connecticut and other states.  These services are typically rendered pursuant to a contract of some type entered into by the facility and the parent of a child or the adult child of an elderly person.

When these contracts are violated by the facility, the parent or adult child is entitled to sue the facility for the breach of that contract.  A question that will arise in such a case is whether the damages claimed in such a lawsuit will be limited to “pecuniary” or “out of pocket” losses or will emotional distress damages also be allowed?  The answer to this question may impact the overall viability of the potential claim and could affect the damaged person from obtaining legal accountability for the facility’s wrongdoing.

 While this question has not yet been fully addressed by Connecticut’s appellate courts, one Superior Court did analyze the issue and refused to dismiss a claim for emotional distress damages arising from a breach of a personal services contract.  In that case, the parents of a severely intellectually disabled daughter signed a contract to place their daughter in a residential facility that provided services to young adults with neurological disabilities.  Under the contract, the parents paid tuition to the facility.  As part of her care, the facility agreed to provide their daughter with her prescribed medications.  While in the facility’s care, their daughter’s physical condition declined substantially.  An investigation determined that employees of the facility had been stealing the daughter’s medication.

This situation not only caused the parent’s daughter great harm, but it caused them to suffer significant amounts of emotional distress.  They sought damages in their breach of contract lawsuit for their severe emotional distress.  The facility sought to have that claim stricken from the lawsuit but the court refused to do so.  The court held that although some of the damages claimed by the parents might be considered “tortlike”, they could still be recovered in a breach of personal services contract lawsuit because damages for emotional distress were “reasonably forseeable” in this situation.

If you have suffered severe emotional distress arising out of a breach of a personal services contract, please contact us for a free legal consultation.

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