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How much punitive damages can I ask for on my complaint form?

Milpitas, CA |

A licensed construction company caused $15,000.00 of damages in my home, they were two months past the contract due date and lied about their qualifications, which is why I have so many damages and unfinished work.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. A complaint is not supposed to state the amount of punitive damages sought (if you state an amount, it's subject to a motion to strike).

    Also, it seems you're attempting to bring claims for breach of contract and fraud -- however, punitive damages are not available for breach of contract. You will have to establish fraud.

    The information/answer is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your individual situation. This attorney is only licensed to practice law in California. Your question and this answer do not create an attorney-client relationship. Do not send/post any confidential information. For more information, visit: www.thesandiegolawfirm.com


  2. None. You are permitted to allege the amount of actual damages ($15,000) in your prayer for damages in your complaint. However, you are not allowed to allege the amount of punitive damages you are seeking in your complaint.

    You also need to have a cause of action (other than just breach of contract) in order to be able to claim punitive or exemplary damages.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


  3. There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages (and i'm oversimplifying) are the economic damages you actually suffered as a result of the contractor causing damage in your home. Punitive damages are not generally available in breach of contract actions, but are available in certain types of tort actions. In most states, punitive damages are difficult to obtain and one attempting to seek punitive damages usually has to prove malice as part of the claim.

    DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.


  4. You apparently recognized you werent competent to do construction on your house. Why do you think you will be able to competently play lawyer in court? You should consult with a real estate or construction law atty.

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