Anyone who has spent time in the humid South knows why swimming pools are popular. The Hoffmanns, Louisiana residents, tried to purchase an in-ground swimming pool to entertain their grandchildren but found the pool was far from the oasis they imagined. Recently, in Hoffmann v. B & G, Inc., 2016-1001 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2/21/17), 215 So.3d 273, the First Circuit upheld an award in their favor which returned the price of the pool and additional costs related to its installation even though the seller was unaware of the problems with the pool at the time of sale.
The Hoffmanns asserted what is known in Louisiana law as a “redhibition” claim. Redhibition allows purchasers to void a sale if the thing bought has a “vice or defect” that makes it either:
(1) useless, or
(2) so inconvenient that the buyers would not have bought the thing had they known of the problem.
When the Hoffmanns purchased the pool, the seller arranged to have it installed, which was included in the price. The Hoffmanns used the pool for two summers. However, when they uncovered the pool for its third summer of use, they discovered that the pool liner had detached. The Hoffmanns later learned that the manufacturer no longer recommended their specific pool to be installed completely in-ground.
With redhibition, “good faith” sellers (sellers who did not know of the defect) must be given the chance to repair or replace the defective thing. Instead of repairing the pool, the seller of the Hoffmanns’ pool arranged for a new pool to be installed by a third party. Unfortunately, this second “replacement” pool also failed, this time because of an installation issue. After the second pool failed, the Hoffmanns filed suit.
The pool company argued that the Hoffmanns could not support a redhibition claim because the second pool they provided did not have a defect, but instead failed because of faulty installation. It claimed that it discharged its redhibition duties with respect to the first pool when it replaced the pool. The court disagreed and found that the “object” of the sale was a functioning in-ground swimming pool and that, after all of the efforts to repair and/or replace the original pool, the Hoffmanns still did not have a “defect-free useable in-ground swimming pool.”
The Hoffmanns won, making their summer a little more bearable.