Supreme Court Allows Emotional Distress Claims Against Builders

Kegler Brown Construction Newsletter

Until recently no Ohio homeowner was ever able to recover against the builder for non-economic type damages, such as loss of enjoyment, annoyance and discomfort. However, a Court of Appeals case out of Cuyahoga County found that such recovery was permissible and the Ohio Supreme Court elected to hear the case.

The Ohio Supreme Court decided to join the minority of courts that allow emotional distress damages in contract disputes between homeowners and builders. The Supreme Court stated that its decision "will not open the floodgates" because in order to recover for emotional distress the breach of contract must have also caused bodily harm or be "of such a kind that serious emotional distress was a particularly likely result." Kishmarton v. William Bailey Constr., Inc. (2001), 93 Ohio St.3d 226.

However, whether the floodgates are now open to emotional distress claims in residential cases remains to be seen, as is the issue of whether commercial owners may assert such claims against contractors.