Do I have a lawsuit against him?

I found a contractor to install a water heater. The contractor e-mailed me a quote. I accepted the bid. The bid specified a brand of unit that I wanted. Shortly thereafter, the contractor indicated that he actually could not get that unit and suggested an alternative unit. Then he said that I was difficult to deal with and refused to install the unit. Do I have a lawsuit against him?

You can certainly file a lawsuit against the contractor. The questions really are how good your claim is and whether you can prove damages.

A threshold question may be whether a valid contract was formed. The e-mail exchange, depending on all the circumstances, may or may not have constituted a contract. Of course other claims may exist but the following discussion assumes that breach of contract is the primary claim that should be asserted.

Assuming a contractual obligation existed, the next question would be whether the contractor breached the contract. Failing to obtain a unit specifically agreed to in the contract and then refusing to perform under the contract, would very likely qualify as a breach.

The final major consideration is the extent of your damages. Damages refer to the amount of financial loss you suffered due to the contractor’s breach of contract. In this situation, the damages may be low or even nonexistent.

You would have an obligation to obtain an alternative contractor to perform the work. This is called mitigating damages. There is likely a good possibility that you could find a substitute contractor to perform the work at the same rate or even for a lower total price. If you cannot find a comparable contractor that will perform at a similar or cheaper cost, you may have damages based on the fact that it costs you more to hire a subsequent contractor to perform the same work.

Regardless, overall this is a case that should probably be pursued as a small claim case, if at all. Even without an attorney’s involvement, there are still costs inherent in pursuing a case through court and the weaknesses with the case may not ultimately justify pursuing the lawsuit.