Claim that a boat ‘works awesome’ doesn’t count as a warranty, Sask. judge says

An attempt to claim damages for a boat that sputtered to a stop during its first outing didn’t hold water with a Saskatoon judge.

The trouble began for a Saskatchewan man in June 2019, around 45 minutes into a day on Candle Lake — traveling in a boat he recently bought off Kijiji.

“It was a beautiful day and (the buyer) was excited to use his new boat,” Provincial Court Judge Steven Schiefner wrote in a ruling issued earlier this month.

“He drove around the lake and ran the boat at various rates of speed including one short run at 95 (kilometres per hour).”

A “loud clicking noise” coming from the boat’s engine signaled a change in fortunes for the man and his family.

I have shut down the engine to try and find the source of the problem. The boat wouldn’t restart and required a tow back to shore.

He had purchased the boat on April 4, 2019 from a man who lived on an acreage located near Silton, Sask.

The online ad for the black, 21-foot, 2008 Baja Islander touted features such as its 350 MAG engine, swim deck, Clarion stereo and its special order “outlaw graphics.”

The ad said the boat “works awesome.”

While it wasn’t possible to submerge it in a lake, the seller provided a source of water so the motor could be tested, the decision said.

A day later the buyer and his wife returned to purchase the boat, adding a line in the bill of sale saying the seller “guarantees” the boat, motor and accessories are in “good working order” and that no information has been withheld regarding its condition.

Based on the language used in the ad, which also used the phrase “mint condition,” and the additional lines in the bill of sale, the seller thought there was a case to be made for compensation.

After his family’s day on the lake was stalled, he spent roughly $1,300 repairing the watercraft.

Schiefner disagreed. He said words such as “awesome” amount to “little more than advertising puffery.”

“Even though ‘mint’ means in near-perfect condition, as if never touched or used, the seller’s advertisement was clear the boat had been both touched and used — for 10 years.”

Schiefner also was not swayed by the clause included in the bill of sale.

He acknowledged the common legal standard for second-hand sales, caveat emptor — better known as “let the buyer beware” — was “modified” by the added condition.

However, he said other than another “minor” problem found when the boat was repaired, the evidence showed it was “functioning properly” when it was sold.

The guarantee “did not guarantee the boat was free from latent defects,” Schiefner wrote.

The “progressive crack” in a gear that caused the motor to fail “could have lasted for 10 years during which time the boat would have functioned properly,” Schiefner wrote, referring information provided by a repair shop during the trial.

“Unfortunately… it only lasted 45 minutes.”

Schiefner dismissed the claim and said ultimately the buyer should bear the loss because he knew he was buying a used boat.

In addition to repair costs, the buyer was seeking damages for the “loss of use and enjoyment of the boat.”

He estimated he would have taken the boat out six to eight times over the time it was in the shop. The cost of a replacement boat would have been $380 per day.

The scenario was entirely hypothetical as he never actually rented a boat, according to the decision.

Based on this, Schiefner wrote that even if he had found in the buyer’s favor, he would not have awarded damages for “loss of enjoyment.”

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