Not My Problem: Release of Liability Sticks
We’ve all seen them – those clauses on proposals, work orders and construction contracts stating that a repairman won’t be responsible or liable for any damage caused by his repairs. The question is, are they enforceable? A recent case has determined they can be, if properly written.
When homeowners discovered a leak under the floor of their home, they contracted a company to find it and fix it. Before repairs could begin, the homeowners had to sign a work authorization which included the following in bold print:
Technicians shall not be responsible for any damage whatsoever which may result from any locating procedures. Property owner agrees to hold harmless repair company absolutely in this regard.
To find and repair the leak, the technician drilled a hole into a floor tile. He then located the problem and fixed it. But he left the homeowners with a broken floor tile. When the owners couldn’t locate a matching tile, they had to have all the tiles replaced in the area. They filed a claim with the insurance company which paid them in full and then sought to recover what it paid the homeowners from the repair company. The court, however, determined that the work order signed by the owners also applied to the insurance company and the provision within the work order showed clear intent by the contractor to be relieved from any damage it caused.