United States District Court for the Western District of Washington Bars Emotional Distress Damages in Borrower’s Breach of Mortgage Contract Claims

On February 13, 2023, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington found that, under Washington law, a borrower could not recover emotional distress damages under breach of mortgage contract claims.

The borrower had a mortgage contract for his residence and filed claims against the lender for allegedly failing to accurately record and report all payments made on the mortgage loan. The borrower also sought emotional distress damages relating to emotional harm he allegedly suffered as the result of the lender’s alleged conduct. The Court, however, determined that the borrower’s mortgage contract did not have sufficient “elements of personality” to warrant emotional damages under Washington law. Specifically, the Court held as follows:

“[P]laintiff has failed to provide the Court with a single instance where Washington courts permitted emotional distress damages for a breach of contract claim. While Washington courts have stated that this may be permissible in some instances…, they have been hesitant to permit such damages… . [T]he mortgage contract at issue here does not have sufficient “elements of personality” to be a close call… .”

The case is Flores v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. C21-6RSL, 2023 WL 1967262 (W.D. Wash. February 13, 2023).

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