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Old 01-09-2017, 19:19   #1
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A dinghy and a lawsuit

So I have a question for you, sorry for the long winded answer but here's goes,,

In July I advertised a 1999 AB Navigo 10' RIB on my local Craigslist for $700. I felt the price was more than fair, the boat wasn't a cream puff but wasn't trashed either. I hadn't put it in the water the last 2 years and had it stored upside down behind my barn on sawhorses deflated. When I had it in the water it was great. Maybe a couple topoffs per summer.

So I had about 25 people call me asking me to take their money, wanting to buy it sight unseen. Was actually a little overwhelmed at the response I got. This was just a bare rib, no engine or trailer. Pic attached.

I had someone come over, he gave me full asking price. We went over the boat, I showed him a patch I had done on the port tube, some heavy glass epoxy reinforcement for abrasion on the bottom etc. I pointed out all flaws and had the boat inflated in my driveway for a week prior to the sale.

He asked me if there were any leaks and I said no, not that I'm aware of. I told him i inflated it a week ago and here's what it looks like judge for yourself. I gave him the standard "hey but it's a 20 year old inflatable, no warranties, as is where is." Disclaimer. We shook on it I signed the title and he gave me the cash.

His Tacoma had a cap on it and he wanted to hump it on the roof. I offered to use my full size truck and deliver it to an address he gave me, the following day about 20 miles awa, no charge. I deflated the tubes to fit it in the bed and dropped it off.

2 weeks later he emails me that he can't inflate it and he needs the "special tool". I explain there isn't a special tool, that all he needs is a regular inflatable pump, he could use a shop vac, air gun with something to squish over the hole etc. still can't figure it out. I sent him links to pumps on Amazo, nRS. He's texting me almost daily. Finally I'm getting annoyed so I tell him if he can't figure out how to pump up an inflatable to give the dock kid at his marina $10 and have him do it for him.

Another week goes by (so he's had this for almost a month) and he says he finally got the "special tool" and now one of the tubes is leaking and he wants me to pay for it. I respond that I'm not fixing his boat. We get into a terse back and forth on texts and his attitude was aggressive. Finally he says if I won't agree to fix it, he's going to drag me into small claims court because I sold him a junk boat. If he had asked nicely I probably would have driven the 40 miles round trip just to go look at it with him, but he was kinda being an ahole and my charity was worn thin with him.

Fast forward to a week ago and I get the suit. Suing me for $700 plus court costs. I know that boat held air when I delivered it, it held air in my driveway for a week in the rain. I also had a buddy in the driveway when this went down who agrees with my recollection of events. He claims I guaranteed he boat had no leaks and the valves were good, which I would never do on a boat that old. I have no idea what he did in his attempts to inflate this thing or if he jammed a screwdriver in the valve. Let's pretend he didn't and the boat did leak a little, say the tube got soft after 3 days or something.

At what point would you say I'm responsible for this? I'm a reasonable guy, I take care of my stuff and I would never sell something I knew was bad. My conscience is clear on this. I also don't really care about the $700, I want this to be a teachable moment good or bad, so I intend to appear in court and waste a day of work to make my stand.

I guess what I'm asking is what would you consider a 20 year old inflatable to be consuming a normal amount of air? Put yourself in his shoes and mine and give me your thoughts. I think a tiny "leak" is probably pretty normal on boats of this age and I would expect that an inflatable in this condition would leak a little. Expecting it to be 100% air tight and never topping it off over a season just doesn't happen ever even on new boats.

I don't really want to deal with him or whatever he did to the boat. I had it advertised on a motorcycle forum I belong to. I'm in MA and a guy from VA called me about it, he's an Army guy stationed there. I told him it was too far back then. If I get it back I decided I'm going to fix whatever is wrong, add a 9.9 evinrude i have and drive to VA and give it to the Army guy for free.

So give me your thoughts good or bad. What would you consider an acceptable leak (assuming he didn't cause it) and what would you do now faced with a pain in the ass lawsuit by a guy who has nothing better to do?

Thanks
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Old 01-09-2017, 19:32   #2
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A dinghy and a lawsuit

I wonder if he opened the valves and tried to seal them with the caps?
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Old 01-09-2017, 19:55   #3
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

You demonstrated that it held air, it's an 'as is' sale, buyer beware.
Having said that, if I were in your shoes I'd offer the guy your time .... tell him you won't mind looking at the boat with him if he brings it over. You can then look it over and see what is going on.
As far as teachable moment is concerned: Should have handed him the title and said 'good luck'. Unfortunately being extra nice bit you in the behind
For leakage - you showed him the tubes after a week and he was satisfied. As far as I know, all hypalon boats leak to some extent. Nothing wrong with having to top up once a month. Even if it leaks more, up to him to patch the hole.
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Old 01-09-2017, 19:55   #4
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Tell him to pound sand. What is he going to do? Bring the boat into the court room to show it doesn't hold air? I'm sure the judge won't want to sit around waiting for it to leak. Besides it held air in your drive way and a month later he says something is wrong, who knows what he did to it over a months time. Not to mention it is a 20 year old boat, no lemon law application there.

Let us know what happens
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Old 01-09-2017, 20:01   #5
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

FFR, all my local sales are done anonymously at third party locations, using a burner number, clearly flagged "sale final, as is, no warranty" from the get-go.

eBay is great for buying, basically a blanket NQA 90 day refund, so not great for selling, lots of scammers out there.
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Old 01-09-2017, 20:04   #6
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Track every minute you spend on this in writing. Keep a log. Counter sue him for your time if the judge rules in your favor. Tell him you are going to do it.
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Old 01-09-2017, 20:09   #7
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

You would think "buyer beware" would be a generally accepted concept on Craigslist. Buying a used anything comes with certain risks.
You did your due diligence by testing the boat for a week. This guy sounds like he has never owned an inflatable before and is now disappointed that there is effort involved with it.
Court sucks, but I don't think you have much to worry about. Good luck
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Old 01-09-2017, 20:13   #8
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Yeah obviously I don't know what he did to it. I'm trying to be charitable, trust me when I tell you I would go out of the way to help someone. But this guy is just a class A jagoff. There's no way I'm reaching out to him, that was months ago when I was trying to be helpful to him. And he's a boater too, he told me he had a 31' Duffy and I looked him up at one point he was running tuna charters out of it. So I just can't believe the babe in the woods thing.

When I bought the boat there were 2 holes that I discovered when I first inflated it. Bought the shore adhesive and hypalon patch and fixed it. I would never ask someone to fix something unless they completely lied about it or it was new and should have a warranty.

But I'm seriously trying to put myself in his shoes and pretend that this was me on the other end. Say he did inflate it and leave it outside, comes back a week later and a tube was soft. Again, I don't know anything other than he says it "leaks" maybe that's a gusher or soft tube I don't know.

What would you say is expected and acceptable for a boat of this vintage? I feel if a tube went soft after a week, I'd probably look for the leak and fix it. Anything less I'm just not going to bother and would throw a couple quick pumps in and get on with life.

The 2 pinholes I repaired were actual leaks you could hear and there's no way it had that since it sat in my driveway for a week. It did rain which will soften up a tube but this was expected, in the pic I took, it had just rained.

My lawyer friend says in small claims the magistrate will try and make things fair. So what's fair I need to take it back and fix it? He's had this since July 14th.
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Old 01-09-2017, 20:38   #9
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

You're not responsible, and I suspect if this "suit" goes anywhere (in terms of court or mediation) you'll be vindicated. They guy can't produce any sort of written guarantee, no contract. He gave you cash and he took the boat and it's his now leak or no leak, end of story.

Save a copy of the ad you posted and all his emails/texts, needless to say.
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Old 01-09-2017, 23:51   #10
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Massachusetts courts/magistrates usually seem to favor the one doing the suing. Unfair I know in a state full of "victims." My advice in MA, take back the boat or fix it, then get a signed receipt from him or the next guy stating "no expressed or written warranties, being sold as is." Without something written like that in MA, and sometimes even with the agreement in writing... you'll still lose.

Don't waste your time in court.
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Old 02-09-2017, 05:12   #11
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Anybody can sue anybody at any time, for anything.

Winning the suit, on the other hand, is another story.

If I felt I was in the right, I'd certainly show up in court prepared to prove it.

Most people show up unprepared, more interested in calling the other party names than getting to the real issue. If that happens, you'll certainly win. And by all means, counter-sue for your time and any expenses you incur. Even if it's just copying costs.

That said, there are smart people out there who know how to game the system. And yes, MA has more then their fair share of "victims." Still, facts are facts. And the worst you can do is lose all or part of the amount you're being sued for. I'd rather do that than just hand it over without a fight.
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Old 02-09-2017, 05:34   #12
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Since you posted this on an open forum, I am assuming the buyer does not hang out here. You may have some exposure.

When you transported "his" boat you assumed the risk of damaging it in transit. Of course the counter argument is you assumed he inspected it on delivery. The question will hinge on the location of the leak(s) and what could have caused them. He may not think of this. But walk into the hearing ready to defend how the boat was moved. If your friend helped you load it, drag him/her along.

Not an attorney --- just using some business logic.
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Old 02-09-2017, 05:52   #13
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

My advice hinges more on your temperament than the merits of the case. If it's going to really upset you to go to court and deal with this guy, I'd try to settle out of court with him. If you're more easy going than I, you could go to court, present your case, explain that it was understood verbally that this was an "as is" deal, show your photos, and see what happens. You just might prevail, depending upon what kind of a nut this guy comes off as to the court. He sounds like a real nut to me, and much of common law has to do with the standard of what a "reasonable" person would do.
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Old 02-09-2017, 05:55   #14
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
Massachusetts courts/magistrates usually seem to favor the one doing the suing. Unfair I know in a state full of "victims." My advice in MA, take back the boat or fix it, then get a signed receipt from him or the next guy stating "no expressed or written warranties, being sold as is." Without something written like that in MA, and sometimes even with the agreement in writing... you'll still lose.

Don't waste your time in court.
Don't take this the wrong way but that just pisses me off even more and convinces me I need to win. I'm ultra competitive when it comes to these things and even if I lose my $700, the court costs, time off work, it's still a victory for me if I try. I've never been sued before so I think this is a fairly good opportunity to throw my hat in the ring for short money.

Giving up without a fight isn't in my DNA, I just can't do it. I bought a new BMW motorcycle and had a lot of problems since new and out of warranty. I waged a social media guerilla war campaign and finally had the president of BMW motorcycles call me and offer me a new bike in exchange for mine. Did the same with Ethan Allen furniture when my wife ordered a bunch of custom stuff they screwed up.

While you and others may consider it a waste of time, and it probably is, I take these as chances to learn something. I'm not a law scholar, but I was on my high school Lincoln Douglas debate team

I think if the court system rebukes me for what I consider to be heavily favored in my corner, I want to experience that injustice.

I've been doing my homework and trying to read up on case law. Last night I read the UCC section 2 for some light bedtime stuff.

Court date is October 5th. I will be prepared.
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Old 02-09-2017, 06:11   #15
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Re: A dinghy and a lawsuit

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
You're not responsible, and I suspect if this "suit" goes anywhere (in terms of court or mediation) you'll be vindicated. They guy can't produce any sort of written guarantee, no contract. He gave you cash and he took the boat and it's his now leak or no leak, end of story.

Save a copy of the ad you posted and all his emails/texts, needless to say.
Yes I have everything other than the ad. I feel this is exactly my point, but perhaps some of the subtle nuances described below like where the leak is located etc might come to bear.

His emails paint him is completely helpless. Literally he's asking me to explain how to use a pump. Repeatedly. I gave him numerous options. I don't know if he dragged it across his driveway a ripped a tube or what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Anybody can sue anybody at any time, for anything.

Winning the suit, on the other hand, is another story.

If I felt I was in the right, I'd certainly show up in court prepared to prove it.

Most people show up unprepared, more interested in calling the other party names than getting to the real issue. If that happens, you'll certainly win. And by all means, counter-sue for your time and any expenses you incur. Even if it's just copying costs.

That said, there are smart people out there who know how to game the system. And yes, MA has more then their fair share of "victims." Still, facts are facts. And the worst you can do is lose all or part of the amount you're being sued for. I'd rather do that than just hand it over without a fight.
Agreed. I'm not interested in counter suing. I don't want money I just want to win.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snore View Post
Since you posted this on an open forum, I am assuming the buyer does not hang out here. You may have some exposure.

When you transported "his" boat you assumed the risk of damaging it in transit. Of course the counter argument is you assumed he inspected it on delivery. The question will hinge on the location of the leak(s) and what could have caused them. He may not think of this. But walk into the hearing ready to defend how the boat was moved. If your friend helped you load it, drag him/her along.

Not an attorney --- just using some business logic.
There is nothing I have posted here that I would not swear to in a court room. I agree the transport thing was stupid on my part to assume the liability for. I've sold a fair amount of extremely heavy woodworking machines. My disclaimer is, once you've paid me, that saw is yours. And you don't put slings on it until it's paid. If I see you're doing something unsafe on my property I call the shots.

I think I recall giving him a lite version of that like, yeah sure I'll bring it over but once we exchange considerations, that boat is yours. My witness was there for the entire event and is a public figure in our town so I think his testimony carries considerable weight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by danielamartindm View Post
My advice hinges more on your temperament than the merits of the case. If it's going to really upset you to go to court and deal with this guy, I'd try to settle out of court with him. If you're more easy going than I, you could go to court, present your case, explain that it was understood verbally that this was an "as is" deal, show your photos, and see what happens. You just might prevail, depending upon what kind of a nut this guy comes off as to the court. He sounds like a real nut to me, and much of common law has to do with the standard of what a "reasonable" person might do.
No it won't upset me, I'm looking forward to it. I'm aggressive by nature but I'm also sharp enough to know that I need to curb that instinct in front of a magistrate. the guy isn't a nut, he's a local bar owner. My witness had a dealing obliquely with him and they were actually chatting about it while I was sorting a few things with paperwork. Afterwards he told me about it.
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