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Brent Blanchard
Brent Blanchard, Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 1975
Experience:  Thirteen years of business law experience, from business formation to litigation
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Our company recently changed phone providers to Comcast and

Customer Question

Our company recently changed phone providers to Comcast and suffered tremendous loss of business due to phone lines not working properly causing our clients to purchase travel services elsewhere thinking we were out of business. I want to know if there are any feasible compensation recourse against Comcast for our nearly $25,000 loss?
Thank you. Christian
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Brent Blanchard replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your question.

Probably not.

A famous case used in law school (don't remember the name) was in some heartland state back when phones were fairly new, and in interruption of service led to a fire being reported later than it could have/should have been. So the burned-out homeowner (farmer?) sued the phone company.

They lost.

No "guarantee" of service, the court said, based on review of the contract.

Now, Comcast being as big and savage as I have heard them to be, I would be absolutely shocked if their contracts did not have some clause or even half-page paragraph about how they will not be held accountable for any "incidental and consequential" damages for interruption of service.

So read the contract and see whether you bargained away any potential rights to sue for the damages you describe. Even if the contract does not obviously defeat any such claim, the 200-or so year old rule of law from the English case Hadley v. Baxendale would probably apply in the DC court system (but check the contract for what state's laws will govern any dispute--those are routinely part of these contracts if they are done competently). In that case, a delay in shipping shut down a mill for weeks, but there was no recovery because the shipper was not put on notice of the urgency, and/or the contracting party paid no premium for swift delivery.

The thing to do is to get a good hour or two of personal legal advice AND legal research, looking at the contract first, and then seeing whether anything in such a commercial setting would defeat the incidental and consequential damages rules. The more the phone provider knew about the critical importance of the system's reliability, the more likely there could indeed be a route of recovery.

Sorry to be pessimistic, but I have read contracts up to 24 pages long (in 9-point type no less!) that rather conclusively left the buyers with virtually no legal remedy unless there was some huge and maybe even outrageous breach of the contract.

Thank you.