I moved to Florida after 40 years in Maine and purchased my unit in Tarpon Springs in 2014. I knew nothing about polybutylene plumbing. Since my purchase, I have had three leaks; one for the water line outside, a small one in my walls and one from the master bath that ruined my wood flooring in the bedroom and closet. I was able to put in a claim with my insurance company for the flooring and received a small amount to replace it. The plumber who fixed the leak with the line that feeds the toilet told me about the polybutylene. He left the word 'Poly' off his repair report because he said companies won't insure if they knew what was there. He told me that there was a class action lawsuit at one time, but its over. Is it?
I have had to take out a Home Equity line of credit to do the re-pipe before I have another leak that the insurance won't cover. My water lines are above the ceiling. I'm 73 years old and still working 40+ hours a week to get by. Do I have any recourse at this late date?
One of the first issues you need to examine is whether there was an inspection conducted on your property by a home inspector PRIOR to your purchase. Generally PB pipes are noted on the inspection and flagged on most any 4.0 point inspection for that exact reason - most insurance carriers won't provide insurance or coverage for them. If the inspector missed this - assuming the pipes could be observed, there may be an E&O claim. The other option might be to have a real estate lawyer review the disclosures of the sellers as its possible that they were aware of the PB pipe issue and failed to disclose it and there may be some remedy there to review. Other than that, you are likely on your own repairing or replacing the pipes like any other issue that might exist with older homes.
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You should consult a real estate litigation attorney right away. There are statutes of limitations for contracts which may have passed. Generally, sellers must disclose latent (hidden) defects which would affect the value of the property if the seller had actual knowledge of the defect. These actions are called Johnson v Davis cases and the contract likely also had language that the seller knew of no hidden defects.
While it is possible that you have a good cause of action against your home inspector or the seller, it is unlikely. Most home inspection contracts contain a provision that the inspector's liability for mistakes to the cost or the inspection. Many inspectors do not carry E & O insurance.
With respect to a Johnson v. Davis action against your sellers, sellers are only required to give you notice of defects in the home about which they have actual knowledge. Most homeowners have no idea of the type of pipes used in their plumbing. To win a J v. D case you would have to prove that your seller did have actual knowledge of the pipes and did not disclose it to you.
It is probably worth talking to an experienced real estate litigator about your case, but, unfortunately, it is likely that your loss is one for which there is no legal recovery.
Disclaimer: This answer is provided for informational purposes only, does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Actual legal advice can only be provided after completing a comprehensive consultation in which all of the relevant facts are discussed and reviewed.
There was a couple class action in the 1990s that is closed now, but there is a recent involving FlowGuard Gold CPVC pipes: https://www.classaction.org/cpvc-pipe-lawsuits
The class actions from the 1990s closed out by 2009.
I suggest you contact a couple of different plumbing companies for your re-pipe. There can be a considerable price difference depending on which contractor you choose.
This communication is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. It is always recommended you consult an attorney in person to discuss your case.
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