Construction Law Blog
Construction of the Martin’s home did not go smoothly, and Martin sued to recover his alleged damages. After a trial on the merits, the jury found that Cresci breached the Contract and entered a verdict awarding Martin $66,000.00. The jury’s verdict sheet did not subcategorize the amount of damages. After the verdict was entered, Martin filed post-trial motions seeking attorneys’ fees and prejudgment interest on the breach of contract damages. The trial court denied Martin’s motion, and Martin appealed to the Superior Court.
On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed. Regarding Martin’s claim for the prejudgment interest, the Superior Court explained that under Pennsylvania law, prejudgment interest is awarded automatically only when the damage resulting from the breach is liquidated at the time of breach. In all other circumstances, the decision whether to award prejudgment interest is left to the discretion of the trial court. The Superior Court concluded that because Martin’s damages were unliquidated, consequential damages (including items such as mortgage interest and the costs of maintaining two properties), an award of prejudgment interest on those damages was purely discretionary. The Superior Court found no abuse of discretion, and therefore affirmed the denial of prejudgment interest. The Cresci decision reinforces the significance of including liquidated damages provisions in construction contracts.