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August 24, 1986|DOUGLAS RING and BUSTER SUSSMAN | Ring is a partner in the law firm of Howard, Ring & Chizever. Sussman is a free-lance writer. and

Can you sue for damages if you aren't damaged?

Take this recent case as an example of how the court looks at this question:

A home buyer and seller entered into escrow. But before the sale was completed, the buyer terminated the escrow.

The seller put the house back on the market--although at a lower price. Upset by what the buyer did, the seller sued for breach of contract. The seller wanted to recover the difference between the contract price and the new proposed price.

Before a new buyer could be found, the seller changed his mind, took the property off the market but continued with the lawsuit.

However, by the time of the trial, the house had gone up in value.

So how much could the seller collect?

Little, if anything, said the judge. If the seller could not show actual damages (lost money) then there was no point to the lawsuit.

Moral: In this kind of case, what counts is lost money, not ruffled feathers.

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