Corrosion of flexible water supply lines

Rare and interesting judgment on liability

Forensic experts are regularly called upon to give their opinion on the cause and possibility for subrogation in cases of flexible water supply line corrosion. But rarely has a court ruled on liability in connection with such a loss. A recent judgment by the Superior Court of Quebec did so.

Superior court judgment_Corrosion of flexible water supply lines

This type of failure mainly occurs when corrosive cleaning products are stored near stainless steel-sheathed flexible connectors. The corrosive vapors from these products cause the braided steel strands crack, exposing the inner polymer tube, which can swell and burst, causing water damage… and often an insurance claim.

Last fall, the Honorable Judge Alain Michaud presided over a trial in which Nicolas Geoffroy, an engineer and metallurgist at CEP, was an expert witness. At the end of the trial, the magistrate ruled that, in this case, the responsibility fell 75% to the manufacturer of the corrosive cleaning product and 25% to the distributor of the connector.

First, the judge considered that the manufacturer of the cleaning product failed in its duty to inform. The dangers presented by the corrosive nature of this cleaning product were considered to be key causal element, as the manufacturer did not have clear warnings on the label. If dangers deserve to be identified in the Material Safety Data Sheet of the product, then the essentials should also be mentioned directly on the product label in clear, concise and understandable language.

Moreover, Judge Michaud is of the opinion that the distributor did not do everything in their power to advise consumers that the flexible connectors were highly subject to corrosion and could lead to a catastrophic leak. This issue was known to the distributor due to similar claims having been reported in previous years. The judge opined that he considered the distributor had neglected to inform the consumer when it became aware of the issues with the product.

In addition, the magistrate rejected any responsibility of the user, because they had not been properly informed of the dangers. “However, he has no idea that the fact of not closing the container hermetically, or of storing it in an enclosed space such as his cupboard, facilitates or maintains a process of corrosion of the metal, including, for example, that of his flexible connectors”.

Finally, after analyzing the reports and testimonies of the various experts called to the bar, the judge highlighted the quality of the work of CEP Forensic’s expert, Nicolas Geoffroy, saying his conclusions were well measured and informed the court well.  

To read the judgment in its entirety (French only), Click here.

Each year, CEP Forensic’s experts are entrusted with dozens of cases involving flexible hoses affected by corrosion. Their experience, combined with in-depth knowledge, make them formidable experts you can count on to get the facts straight in your claims.

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