In parts one, two, and three of this four-part series, the Nashville construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law have been discussing nominal damages and how they can affect contractors in the construction industry. In the last part, we will wrap up our series by discussing why plaintiffs want nominal damages and the when nominal damages can be awarded. Remember, for all of your construction-related legal needs, including contract review, lien law, and bond law, contact a Nashville construction attorney.
Making a Case for Nominal Damages
It might seem illogical to pursue a defendant for a paltry amount like $1, but the truth is that nominal damages can make a big difference for your case, and more often than not, the judge or the jury will award nominal damages whether it is requested or not. In most contract disputes, the contract will contain a clause that outlines how legal fees will be handled in the case of a dispute. Usually, whoever ends up on the losing end of the lawsuit will be responsible for paying the legal fees of the winning party. In other words, by establishing a monetary loss, even a nominal one, the plaintiff is able to have their legal fees covered by the defendant.
Plaintiffs rarely request nominal damages. However, they can, although this rarely occurs in cases related to breached contracts. Sometimes, the plaintiff simply wants the defendant to admit their wrongdoing. This goal is met by pursuing nominal damages. In other scenarios, the plaintiff might feel as if their case isn’t deserving of damages exceeding the nominal level, so they may request nominal damages to strengthen the judge’s perception of their character.
When are Nominal Damages Awarded?
While nominal damages are a rarity in contract cases, since most breach of contract claims involve significant monetary loss, a plaintiff is still responsible for proving that a breach of contract has taken place if they are looking to pursue nominal damages. Nominal damages can be awarded in contract cases including:
- When there’s no way to determine the value lost as a result of a breach of contract.
- When the contract case is being processed in unison with a tort claim.
- When the defendant exhibited bad faith throughout contract negotiations or failed to meet the terms of the contract.
As a rule of thumb, nominal damages are useful when monetary damages are too convoluted or obscured to clearly calculate and there is also verifiable proof that some action taken on behalf of the other party should be recognized in a court of law. These proceedings can be daunting without the right help. Consult a Nashville construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law for all of your construction contract needs.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.