Homeowner loses appeal over leaky water cooler

By Zachary Lewis | Apr 12, 2017

HARRISBURG — A homeowner has lost an appeal against a water cooler manufacturer for floor damage caused by an alleged faulty unit.

The Superior Court of Pennsylvania on March 28 affirmed summary judgment issued by the Court of Common Pleas of Mifflin County and ruled in favor of LVD Acquisitions LLC d/b/a Oasis International, as the appellant Timothy Meyers was incapable of explaining the faultiness of its water cooler.

Initially, Meyers had purchased from and had installed by Berube’s Crystal Clear Water LLC three water cooler units on April 4, 2014.  Meyers had one of the units placed on a hardwood floor in his living room; the water cooler was not sitting on a protective mat at the time.

Within a week, Meyers claimed a leak from the living-room unit had caused several of his floorboards under the water cooler to heave, although according to his testimony, the leak wasn’t substantial since there was a good amount of water left in the container. Meyers notified Berube’s, which removed the water cooler and returned it to him after repairing it.

Meyers filed a complaint against the unit’s manufacturer, Oasis, claiming the corporation was liable due to a design defect with the water cooler. Oasis motioned for a summary judgment, which was granted since Meyers could not defend his claim under risk-utility theory after failing to provide evidence, procure a technical expert or provide an explanation for his claim.

Meyers did have testimony from Robert Neff of Berube’s stating he had repaired the unit by fixing a defect in a valve, but the testimony was considered inadmissible.

Moreover, it was also determined that as a consumer of the unit, Meyers should have had cognitive knowledge of the risks of the area around the water cooler becoming wet. When he decided not to place a protective mat or surface under the cooler, Meyers was found responsible for the damages, to which he appealed on October 21, 2016.  

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