What are my rights if a termite company initially failed to find the infestation of a supporting joist under my house and when it did its repair was inadequate?

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What are my rights if a termite company initially failed to find the infestation of a supporting joist under my house and when it did its repair was inadequate?

They simply could not do a good job – numerous mistakes both before and after have been documented). As an apology, they replaced the joist but charged me only the cost of the material (I have the receipt). When I sold the house, the buyer’s inspector documented that the work was not done up to the code and the new joist barely supported the house. I want to sue for punitive damages. Do I have a case?

Asked on January 23, 2015 under Business Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You may have a good case for compensatory damages--the cost to redo or repair the work, or the credit you have to give to the buyer for the poor work--based on their professional negligence. However, punitive damages are almost never available in a commercial or contract  context, and then only when you can show not just negligence but an *extreme* level of bad intentions motivating the act.  It is unlikely--not impossible, but unlikely--that you could recover punitive damages.


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