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Old 13-09-2019, 21:25   #1
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Legal warranty woes

Hopefully there are some legal eagles on here that can shed some light on a problem we have. So 2 months ago we purchased a 2019 boat from a couple who sailed it for a year directly from the company in France. So this boatyard has supposedly been doing the "approved" warranty fixes. The previous owners had signed the contract for the work before we purchased it and we were merely waiting to get in the water when they were done. So we thought all was well and flew down to Florida from Washington state to sail off into the sunset. When we arrive the boatyard informs us that the boat manufacturer has refused to pay the total bill for the warranty work because they feel the boatyard overinflated their labor hours(probably true) . So out a 7k warranty bill the only want to pay4k. We told them both they needed to hash this out and even involve the previous owner but the boatyard says we have to pay this or they won't put our boat in the water. We had no signed contract with them authorizing anything so don't think we should have to pay. We did have another boat mechanic look at the bill and he said yes the hours of labor were probably inflated. We just want the boat but can't afford to pay for something we don't feel is our responsibility. Anyone have any insight or thoughts? Thank u
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Old 13-09-2019, 22:01   #2
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Re: Legal warranty woes

Unfortunately, the yard has a "mechanics lien" on the boat, which in effect securitizes their bill with the boat. It's my take that this lien stays with the boat no matter who may be the current owner. Did you use a marine title company to transfer title on this vessel? If so, they would have done a search of any outstanding liens. I would double-check with them if there was any lien filed prior to your ownership.

Practically speaking, the amounts in dispute are small, so small claims court may be your best recourse. However, you can only sue the manufacturer to live up to their agreement to pay (as I'm assuming they didn't put a cap on it). If they are not a US entity you'll have a problem with that. Maybe, it was a U.S. arm of the company that authorized this work, then you'd have a party to sue for the deficit. You could sue the yard performing the work to take the lesser payment if you can show that they had agreed to a lower amount initially, but from your facts, it doesn't sound like it's the case. A small claims court will mostly just make monetary awards and not directives of equity (meaning an order of replevin to force them to give the boat to you). However, I'm not fully acquainted with FL law, so you'll need to check if a motion in equity is possible in small claims court there.

It may be best to just negotiate with the yard and the manufacturer as best you can with threats of lawsuits (beyond small claims) that no one really wants and will cost way more in legal fees. Tell them your cousin, or son in law, or best friend is a lawyer and will make life difficult for them and it won't even cost you a penny. They may think twice about how you're being treated.

Good luck.
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Old 14-09-2019, 02:03   #3
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Re: Legal warranty woes

I suspect that you can only go after the seller, as that is the only entity that you have a contract with. The manufacturer has no contract with you and neither does the boat yard. Mechanics liens are pretty strong, especially when you need them to launch your boat. If you can't get the seller to make things good, then friendly negotiating with the yard is probably your best bet. Offer them 50% of the excess and see if you can get in the water and get going.

Definately a frustrating position to be in.
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Old 14-09-2019, 03:55   #4
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Location: Punta Gorda, Fl
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Re: Legal warranty woes

Two problem that I see. One you don't have the boat. Two, now that you own the boat, storage fees are now your responsibility. How long before they exceed the $3000? I suspect if you pay you'll have to go after the seller as he owed the money.
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Old 14-09-2019, 05:07   #5
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Location: Brisbane Australia
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Re: Legal warranty woes

I'm not a legal, so my advice is worth every penny you pay for it. Nothing.

But what I would do....... I would talk to the owner let him know it is his fault, he has handed you the keys to a boat you can't take possession of because he won't pay his bills. It's his problem he needs to pay all costs to release your boat including storage costs, you have no agreement with the yard make sure the yard are aware of that and send him the bills.

Next have a solicitor write him a letter as above.

Failing that, talk to all 4 parties, suggest everyone coughs up $750 and move on, you may get a couple to agree.

Last, pay the 3k and move on. Do it all in 2 weeks, don't stew on it.
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