Can I sue a landscaping company for damages and emotional distress?

About 4 months ago, we hired a landscaping company to do regrading, cutting down trees, clearing out brush and debris, and seeding a new lawn. The contractor has left all of the debris claiming our contract wasn’t clear enough on removing it when we stated it had to be removed from the property. He had said he could remove any tree under 12 inches but later said he could only take under 9 inches. This was in the contract as well. He has also kept putting off coming back to finish the job. Saying he will and then not showing up. We decided to fire him and look for another company to finish the job. We have already paid him $2000. At this point clearing out the debris he left behind would cost us somewhere between $2,000-$5,000. My wife has been stressed to the max with everything that’s been going on. All we want is our money back but I’m also wondering what our options might be.

Asked on June 14, 2016 under Business Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

There is NO compensation for emotional distress in breach of contract cases (or, indeed, even in most tort, like accident or criminal act, cases). If you can prove the contractor did violate his agreement (preferably a written one, so you can more easily and definitively prove the existence and terms of the agreement), then you could potentially recover the costs (e.g. debris removal) he caused in court if you sue him. For the amount of money you describe, you may be best off suing in small claims court, acting as your own attorney ("pro se") so as to save on legal costs (since in a case like this, you have to pay for your own lawyer--you can't make the other side pay for it).


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