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Question DetailsAsked on 5/30/2017

Need legal advice for plumber who botched a facet and now is refusing to pay for kitchen replacements.

-Our plumber replaced a facet incorrectly and it leaked unbeknownst to us for a month.
-When we found out it had leaked and caused damage to our kitchen, walls and garage.
-The plumber paid for remediation and mold clean up which took a month
-Now its time to replace kitchen fixtures and he doesn't want to use his insurance because it's a lot of money
-We have two sides of the kitchen, the left and the right - the plumber wants to only replace the cabinets and countertops of the damaged right side of the kitchen...thus our cabinets and countertops would not match throughout our kitchen
-Is this plumber legally responsible to match the of the WHOLE kitchen or does he only have to pay for the area his company damaged?

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This is a HOT issue amongst insurance companies right now (especially on siding and roofing and auto parts like bumpers), and maybe a dozen or so states have enacted "matching" laws or regulations covering this subject - see article links below, primarily from one law firm which is apparently taking a lead on this subject in some cases.


https://www.law360.com/articles/54991...


http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragel...


http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragel...


http://www.propertyinsurancecoveragel...


http://www.sdvlaw.com/wp-content/uplo...


Generally, the trend in the courts seems to be the replacement has to be a "reasonable match" - i.e.. what a reasonable person would consider normal variation in tone or color across a number of kitchen cabinets, or if it cannot reasonably be directly matched (which might include new matching cabinets custom finished to match, or possibly refinishing/refacing the undamaged ones to match the new ones). Certainly, the basic color (custom mixed) and gloss level and general materials (hardwood, veneer, laminate, or whatever is applicable) would have to be matched. However, most policies and case history also allow for payment to you of the reasonable cost to you of having either of the above done rather than them doing the actual repair - which might be the route the plumber's insurance might choose to take if "matching" is a sore point between you and them. Whether you would have to accept such an offer depends on state insurance law, but in the event of an argument probably every state provides for "payment based on appraisal of damages" as an acceptable remedy - meaning in the event of a dispute a professional independent appraiser (or sometimes the average of three with one chosen by you, one by the covering insurer, and one chosen by both of them) determines the fair market value of the loss or its replacement (depending on a number of factors) and you get paid that much - then what you do about replacement or refinishing or whatever is your call out of your pocket (which now holds that payment).


The wall and garage wall/ceiling damage I can see - as well as commonly the undersink cabinet wood delaminating or swelling - but I am surprised adjacent cabinets have to be replaced. Normally this would involve replacing/repairing not more than the base, where it got damaged by wetness on the floor. Guess the water must have spread across an underlayment under the countertops. And replacing countertops (as opposed to taking them off and then replacing them after the new cabinets are in) surprises me - must have been solid wood or lamninate-topped particle board or such to be damaged, because synthetics, tile, and true stone countertops would normally not be damaged noticeably by a month or so of leakage.


BTW - if countertops are needing changeout, presumably the old damaged ones are out and the wall behind them has been rehabbed - because it almost certainly is moldy and damaged. If the old cabinets are still in, that is likely to be an unpleasant surprise there. Ditto to damage/mold spread under the flooring in the subflooring, and possible flooring cracking/bulging due to underlayment swelling.


It also surprises me he does not want to use his insurance because the cabinets are expensive - something sounds hokey there - sounds like maybe he paid for the drywall/painting/mold removal out of pocket, and is trying to do the same on the cabinets so as to not call on his insurance at all. Which might be a red flag for you, as it might be an indication that his insurance may not be in effect an longer, because almost certainly would he would pay out of pocket for new cabinets and countertops would be far more than any increase in premium he would see as a result of a claim, unless this is part of a series of claims and he is about to lose his insurance because of excessive claims.


You did not mention flooring - if it leaked enough to damage adjacent cabinets I am surprised the flooring was not damaged, unless tile or stone over a mudcoat/scratchcoat (concrete base) or concrete floor ?

Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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