Nonsense. First, the water damage noted is to apartments below that
are not owned by the person who contracted the plumber. Those
people, with damage cabinets, ceilings, who knows what else, are under
no obligation to allow the plumber to make repairs. Would you let
the plumber fix your kitchen cabinets? Or even choose who does the
repairs? If your car is damaged in a car accident, do you have to
let the other party fix it to have a valid claim? Of course not.
Also, no one automatically has to always give the original contractor
another chance to fix the screw up, even if it's his own area of
work. It depends on what was done wrong. If it's relatively minor,
which is most of the time, then I agree, a court is going to expect
you to give him a chance to correct it. However if it's a case of
total gross incompetence, where it's obvious he doesn't have the
necessary skills or competence, then I agree with the others. You
don't have to give the guy a second chance. And if you have the
proper evidence to show how badly the original job was done, a court
will rule in your favor even if you didn't allow him back.
The OP did make a call to plumber #1 when the leak to the other
apartments was first discovered and could not reach him. Then
because obviously time is of the essence here to avoid further damage,
another plumber was called in. What needs to be done now is to
document everything with complete reports/bills from the new plumber
as to what was wrong, save any parts replaced, take pictures of the
plumbing, damage to other units etc. Contact your insurance
company. Make a call to plumber #1 and send written notification
telling them exactly what happened and asking that either they or
their insurance carrier make good on the cost of repairs to both the
plumbing and the damage.
If they don't then likely your insurance company together with
insurance companies for the other apartments will take care of most of
it. Any deductible, remaining amount, etc, if not covered can be
handled by small claims if necessary.
If you don't give the plumber the chance to fix any damage you ALLEGE he
caused, you largely lose the right to make him pay for it. And I say
allege, because if you didn't give him the chance to even see the damage
before it was fixed, you will have a very difficult time establishing that
he did anything wrong; he will receive the benefit of any doubt.
Yes, he does have the right to fix the kitchen cabinets, or choose who does.
If you don't like that, you repair them at your expense.
It is pointless to argue with you further, as this is a straight forward
matter not subject to opinions; but please don't give advice over matters
you don't understand.
Since this appears to be primarily a legal question, the OP may want
to consider posting it to a legal group such as misc.legal.moderated.
If the original contractor was negligent in effecting the repair he
may be liable for subsequent damages. That may or may not be affected
by the terms of the OP's contract with him, if there was one.
Personally I doubt the law imposes any obligation to go back to the
original contractor to fix the problem. -- H
Actually in most cases the contractor is entitled a chance to rectify
something that was part of the work that he did. For example, in
this case, if it were simply that the valve had a small leak, then it
would usually be expected that the customer give him a chance to fix
it. That's because it was part of the work he did. Even then,
there are exceptions. If the work was so bad that it's clear the
contractor is incompetent, then there is no need to bring him back.
In this case, there are very obvious indisputable issues that absolve
the customer to do anything more work with the plumber:
A - This was clearly an emergency, they called the plumber and
couldn't reach him
B - The damage caused, ie kitchen cabinets, etc has nothing to do with
his area of expertise
C - The main damage is not even in the apartment he worked on, but
On Sep 11, 12:50 pm, email@example.com wrote:
There's confusion here between two causes of action. First, if the
plumber has failed to perform what he was paid to do, that is a breach
of contract and providing the breach is not extreme, the rememdy would
be for the plumber to fix the problem, and perhaps to pay any damages
not excluded by the contract. Second, if the plumber was negligent as
to the work performed such that it resulted in damage to the other
party or to third parties that was proximate and foreseeable with
respect to the negligence, he is liable in tort for that damage. It is
possible that the customer has waived his right to claims for
neligence in the contract, but the extent to which this can be done
depends on the law in that State, and I'd be very surprised if a court
would uphold something that lets a plumber flood somewhere without any
risk of action against him. No matter what the contract says, the
rights of third parties to proceed under tort cannot have been
What planet do you live on? The sensible earthly thing to do is call the
guy and tell him he messed up. A second call to the company would also be
advisable so that they know one of their guys has started something with a
HOA. The next step is for them to fix it.
Cased closed. Solution reached.
For the anal pipe smokers, the discussion goes on as to what would be the
legal thing to do, and to use polysyllabic verbiage to define the legal
entanglements that could follow.
The most logical thing is to take the short steps to finding the simplest
solutions. After that, you can play "What If" until the cows come home.
In the real world, problems like this are solved all the time, and quickly.
It's just when someone on Usenet wants to ask questions of unqualified
uninvolved people and then go by their suggestions that things get sticky.
Grab the bull by the horns and start with the plumber and the owner of his
company. IF you don't get too smart alecky and bring out all the legal
terms and threats, they just MAY solve your problem to everyone's
satisfaction in a reasonable time. That is, ONLY if given the opportunity
to do so.
Legal advice on Usenet is worth at least what you pay for it.
If you pay attention, that is exactly what the person who contracted
with him tried to do. And they couldn't reach him. Now what planet
do you live on where with leaking water doing damage to your
downstairs neighbor's apartments, it's wrong to call in another
And again, the big potential damages here are not the work the plumber
could even do. It's kitchen cabinets, ceilings to the apartment
below, that the OP doesn't own. Apparently you and Toller think that
everyone has to just bow down to the plumber and let him control
everything, and decide who fixes what. That is clearly not how the
law works. The apt owner below is under no obligation to the
plumber to have him fix her cabinets or choose who does.
A second call to the company would also be
I don't know why you're trying to draw a distinction and make it sound
like there are two parties here, the plumber and the company he works
for. Absent any evidence to the contrary, when the OP says she
called back plumber #1, one would assume that she called the business
that she engaged to do the work. Why do you think she's calling some
guy personally at home? And whether their guy screwed up something
in an apt with a HOA or in a private residence is another non-existent
distinction. Whether it's a private residence or a condo, the
contractor is still responsible for any damage as a result o faulty
Thank you Judge Steve.
The rest of us know it's barely begun.
The legal thing to do is to first mitigate the damages. The OP
already did that by calling the first plumber when the water problem
was discovered and when he couldn't be reached, calling in another
plumber. And the legal entanglements already exist. Water from the
OP's apartment damaged the one below. Now, she is potentially on the
hook for the cost of the damages to kitchen cabinets and the like.
And no, the apartment owner below doesn't have to let the plumber fix
her cabinets or ceilings just because you say so.
If I hit your car, do I get to fix it? Do I get to say where you
have to take it? Of course not. Or if I hit a golf ball through
your window, do I get to fix it or tell you who you have to use to fix
The OP has already done that. But, according to you, they should wait
while water flows until they can find the original plumber and then
let him decide how to proceed with water damage to someone's else's
No, they get sticky when you don't know anything about the law and
listen to guys like you.
Again with this distinction nonsense. When someone engages a
plumber, they generally call and are dealing with the company. They
don't first call and talk to ACME plumbing, then switch to calling Joe
the Plumber at home, who works for the company as an individual.
IF you don't get too smart alecky and bring out all the legal
Certainly they should be informed as quickly as reasonably possible.
But in this case, the plumbing has already been repaired, because
WATER WAS LEAKING AND THEY COULDN"T REACH THE FIRST PLUMBER. So, the
work that the plumber could have done to solve it is over. What's
left is for the plumber or his insurance agent to pay for the
necessary repairs, which appear to be mainly to the apt below.
I am not saying that the course you have suggested is not the most
sensible one; I am just arguing with the assertions being thrown
around here that if this course is not followed, no-one would have any
legal redress. The argument that one has to go back to the original
plumber or somehow no-one can ever recover any damages is simply
nonsense. End of story.
There is a saying that goes something like, "You can't get blood out of a
Justice has nothing to do with what's fair or who's right. Many a guy has
been right and gotten nothing. The only ones who make out are the lawyers
who charge by the hour and really don't care how it turns out.
Experience after experience (in my life and in others) has shown me that
sometimes you can be right, the court will agree with you, but you won't get
Your experiences may vary.
Again, you're tilting at windmills. I am not disagreeing with any the
point you are making about the best approach to take. I am merely
correcting some of the mistaken information being put about regarding
what options are available.
And that has what to do with your foolish claim that unless the
plumber who botched the repair is allowed to fix the water damaged
kitchen cabinets in the neighbors apartment, they have no recourse?
Or that allowing the plumber to fix cabinets is the sensible thing for
anyone to do? If the lawn maintenance company mowing your neighbor's
lawn hit a rock and sent it through your house window, would you have
to let some guy from the lawn company fix it? Or would you just get
it fixed by a competent company of YOUR choice and then send the bill
to the neighbor and the lawn company?
It's very likely that the OP as well as the apartment owners below
have insurance. Their insurance companies should cover the cost of
most of the repairs. And I doubt the insurance companies are gonna
say, "Gee, just call the plumber over and have him fix all the kitchen
cabinets and water damage. That's how these things are handled."
Don't you get it? The person who hired the plumber is not even the
party with the primary damages. The apartment owners below, who's
kitchen cabinets were damaged, are the ones most affected. Where in
the law does it say that if a plumber screws up a job upstairs and it
damages my ceiling or cabinets that the plumber has any right to make
the repairs? What does a plumber know about kitchen cabinets? This
is nonsense. As I pointed out, if some one runs into your car, they
don't have the right to make the repairs.
And I say
One has little to do with the other. You think every plumber is just
going to come over and admit to causing the damage. I agree he
deserves a chance to see it. But the OP already said they tried to
contact him and could not reach him. If you were the party
downstairs with a water damaged apartment, would you sit around and
wait for the plumber, who you have nothing to do with? I don't
think so. You'd contact your insurance company, the upstairs owner
and then take the necessary immediate steps. Pictures, receipts and
insurance adjusters reports will establish what occurred and be
Total BS. Again, I asked what happens if someone hits your car?
Do they have the right to fix it? No. Do they have the right to say
who does? No If you get 3 estimates for the work, choose one that
is reasonable and convenient for you, the party that caused the damage
is responsible to pay. Suppose a tree company damages my roof while
taking down the neighbors tree? Does the arborist get to try to fix
my roof if he feels like it? Or pick the contractor who does? How
about if my negligence results in breaking your son's arm? Can I
pick the doctors? It's silly, and the answer to all is no. It
doesn't get any simpler than this.
You've totally confused 2 very different things. One is, if a
contractor fails to complete a job to the customer's satisfaction,
then in most cases, it is expected that the customer would give him a
chance to fix it. That's because it;s his area of expertise and part
of the work actually contracted. Even then there are exceptions, and
one of those is time is of the essence. This case is a leak that is
causing damage to apartments below. The OP did try to reach the
plumber, but couldn't. End of story. The OP is free to use another
plumber for the plumbing repairs.
It's clear here who understands the circumstances and law. You
completely ignore one of the most obvious points of this whole
problem. And that is that the parties damaged are other apartment
owners. They have absolutely nothing to do with the plumber and are
under no obligation whatever to give him an opportunity to fix their
cabinets or anything else. To suggest that is laughable.
The OP who hired the plumber is on the right track. Now, all they
have to do is document everything, take pics, contact their insurance
company, have the downstairs owners do the same, and then if what has
been stated is true, the plumber is liable for the cost of the
repairs, provided they are reasonable.
What nonsense! If the plumber was negligent and that resulted in
damage to the dwelling or to other dwellings, he is liable in tort for
the costs incurred by the parties. As to whether the costs of calling
another plumber to rectify the situation are recoverable, that will
depend on many things, but the cost of having him prevent further
damage will certainly be. The question of whether the OP's insurance
company or the insurance company of the other dwellings' occupants
will pay is also irrelevant to the plumber's liability, as the
insurers can quite easily pay the claim and then attempt to recover
what they've paid out from subgrogation.
Make all of your requests in writing. Fully document every contact or
attempted contact. Take photos. If no satisfaction within reasonable
period of time, file a small claims action.
When contacting plumber, be pleasant and nonthreatening. Good plumbers
will have insurance to cover damage. Ask to make a claim.
Better yet, talk to your own insurance company. Most often they will
settle with you and then go after other party for damages.
Just a tad confused here...
At 1:07 you said: "I couldnt get a hold of plumber #1 in time"
Then at 1:10 you said:"I was hesitant calling plumber 1 who messed
"Couldn't get a hold of...in time" implies that you tried to contact
him or at least planned to, while "I was hesitant " implies you didn't
really want to contact him at all.
Which is/was it?
What I'm not sure I've read yet is:
Did you initially call the "plumber" directly to replace the valve, or
did you call the "large plumbing company" he is a contractor for?
Have you paid anyone yet for the initial valve replacement? If so who?
And when things went wrong, who were you unsuccessful in reaching (which
caused you to have to get another plumber because of the emergency
nature of the problem, the plumber who did the work or the contracting
My curious mind wants to know why you had to replace that valve in the
first place. Was it leaking or maybe wouldn't shut off completely?
Lastly, I find it a stretch to believe that if as you said, the main
valve was "replaced" how it where someone got a new valve with the wrong
stem in it. Can you explain that to us?
I called the large plumbing company he is working for. They sent him out
the night before to look at the main valve
long story short, I was going to be away from my place for some time, on
my todo list is turning off the main water (cold and hot) valves. Upon
turning off the main water valve, I noticed that water still came out
of my faucet in small drips ... so it wasnt cutting off completely.
Called this plumbing company and they sent out a technician, who
examined it and told me the stem would need replacing and we scheduled
to have this done morning of the next day (since it necessitated turning
off the town house water supply)
This is plumber #1
Unsuccessful in reaching plumber #1
Latter. It wouldnt shut off completely
The report from Plumber #2 stated that the wrong stem had been put in.
Plumber #2 removed it all and soldered in a new pipe and valve. I am not
a plumber so I dont know details, but I saw what was done and I can
summarize the reports if need be
...snip story of bum job, second outfit, possible liability for damage,
The short story is, if you are potentially liable for damage to anything
other than minimal wetness of your own property, call your insurance
company. Having never had only renters' policy I don't know what they
automagically include for liability, but there is certainly first place
to start. If you're lucky, you will have liability coverage that will
take care of any major outlay and the underwriter will then pursue
restitution (or not, but it is no longer your concern).
Failing that, if you have significant out of pocket costs and the first
outfit won't make it good, call an attorney.
If it's just annoyance level of cost, you could pursue the small claims
route eventually if everything else fails.
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