Trotta v. Luckinbill, PICS Case No. 14-0107 (C.P. Lycoming Jan. 13, 2014) Anderson, J. (4 pages).

COURTS OF COMMON PLEAS

The Legal Intelligencer

CONTRACTS

Breach • Gist of Action Doctrine • Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress • Special Relationship

Trotta v. Luckinbill, PICS Case No. 14-0107 (C.P. Lycoming Jan. 13, 2014) Anderson, J. (4 pages).

Plaintiff's claims were barred by the gist of the action doctrine as they arose solely from the parties' contract, and his negligent infliction of emotional distress claim could not be supported because the relationship between a contractor and building owner does not qualify as a special relationship. Defendants' motion for summary judgment granted.

Plaintiff entered into a contract with defendants whereby plaintiff agreed to perform certain alterations to a building owned by defendants. According to plaintiff, defendants terminated his services before the contract completion date.

Plaintiff filed this lawsuit, asserting claims for breach of contract, monetary loss and mental anguish, failure to pay certain amounts, fraud, and lead-based paint and asbestos issues.

Court of common pleas considered defendants' motion to dismiss certain of plaintiff's claims. The complaint alleged that certain actions by defendants caused plaintiff "mental anguish." Specifically, plaintiff claimed that defendants failed to remove interior wall framing, ceilings and existing electrical wires, failed to perform demolition work in a timely fashion, failed to provide choices of materials in a timely fashion and failed to apply for and pay for all permits.

According to plaintiff, defendants also failed to pay for any extra work orders, failed to obtain prior written request before changing plans, frequented the work site with their children, interrupted the work, agitated him and failed to adhere to their contractual obligations.

The court found that all of these claims, except the claim that defendants agitated plaintiff, were barred by the gist of the action doctrine because they arose solely from the contract between the parties.

The court also found that to the extent plaintiff claimed that defendants agitated him, this allegation could be interpreted as a claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, such a claim could not be supported under the circumstances of this case.