Client wants to sue over weeds in plant bed?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums PLACES & SPACES Client wants to sue over weeds in plant bed?

This topic contains 1 reply, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  toby 7 years, 5 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 32 total)
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  • #157181

    Alan Ray, RLA
    Participant

    Have you ever had a client that was so mad over weeds in his plant beds thet they wanted to sue you the designer? In 25 years of self employment and another 14 years working for others, I’ve never had an angry client, until now. Never been sued of even threatened to be in all my career. Now after a very small residential project the client is livid because he has to weed his groungcover bed. Have never heard of anything like this in my life. I told him I didn’t understand how he holds me responsible for his lack of maintenance…I’d be hacked at the installer but I guess the designer is always at fault.

     

     

    #157212

    toby
    Participant

    The problem is that anybody can sue you for anything.  There is no litmus test for filing, but there are costs involved on their end for moving forward with a case.

    And I will not say the judge will rule in your favor because you may not have provided instructions (planting notes) to the installer to use a preemergent prior to planting, even if the preemergent would have hindered growth of said groundcover.  Including language like “at the installer’s option…” could provide you a likely way out.

    And since I am not financially involved with the project (armchair quarterbacking), be very careful about offering them any remedy other than they are responsible for the maintenance.  If they feel differently, then tell them they need to move forward with a lawsuit.

    #157211

    toby
    Participant

    I thought about that last sentence, and was incorrect.

    If they feel differently, then walk away and let them decide on their own if they want to move forward with a lawsuit.

    #157210

    Alan Ray, RLA
    Participant

    i did have instructions to installer on the planting plan to remove weeds by chemical or mechanical means and also to apply a pre-emergent herbaside prior to mulching 3″ of mulch….then I instructed installer to provide written maintenance instructions for all plant materials used on project.

    I also told client that it would be at leaste two growing seasons before the gc would cover completely…..

     

    #157209

    toby
    Participant

    Every once in a while, a client turns into a toad. 

    You CYA’d on this project, and because there is no HSW issue, it’s highly doubtful that you will be held liable in any way.  Avoid communication beyond a response that maintenance is the owner’s responsibility.

    Not to belabor the point, but the problem is that anybody can sue you for anything.  If and when a subpoena ever arrives, let us know what happened.  It will be a good teaching point.

     

    #157208

    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    25 years? Its about time you got sued! Statistically speaking, that is. Some people sue over anything just trying to get either money or free maintenance service out of you. You should countersue for them being so stupid, or just for lost time and any lawyers fees. Either that, or plan a slip and fall at this client’s house and call the lawyer on the back of the phonebook. They will HAMMER for every dollar, or so I am told.

    #157207

    Alan Ray, RLA
    Participant

    thanks Jason, I guess you’re right about the timing…and I like the idea of

    countersuing for stupidity.

    I just don’t understand the mentality of some people.

    I wonder if the sues his car salesman when his car runs out of gas…

    #157206

    Alan Ray, RLA
    Participant

    thanks toby1,

    very good advice that I am following. I did  tell him to have his lawyer call me because I am through listening to hid harassing threats.

    #157205

    Josiah Lockard
    Participant

    I guess these days you have to add a disclaimer to everything. I mean, who would have thought coffee could be hot or cigarettes may give you cancer? I just can’t believe weeds could possibly be growing in Tennessee.

    #157204

    Jason T. Radice
    Participant

    Might I suggest you call this guy?

     

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5hn8bhEpMY

     

    Anybody who went to ESF in the 90’s would remember this guy. He bought every other commercial slot on local TV back then. This one is tame compared to some of them I’ve seen. His catchphrase used to be : ” I may be an SOB, but I’m YOUR SOB!.”

    #157203

    Craig Anthony
    Participant

    I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this one, unless the client can prove that the weeds belong to you or something. Its common knowledge that planting beds need to be weeded whether or not you use a pre-emergent, weed barrier or a foot of mulch. There are dormant weed seeds in the soil, blowing through the air and bombarding the earth in bird droppings.

     

    I had a client threaten to sue me when I was in design/build. We installed front and rear yard plantings and a bluestone terrace at his home during one of the most damp and rainy springs in decades. This guy threw a tantrum because he had vomit fungus and toadstools popping up all over the place on his property. He insisted that we brought them in with our mulch and topsoil. I told him that there is a possibility that we may have brought some spores in, but because of the weather all kinds of fungi are going nuts. And the fact that his developer/builder buried all kinds of stumps and brush through out the community vomit fungus and toadstools will probably be a problem for a long time.

     

    Your case is just like mine. How do you prove how the weeds or fungus spores establish themselves on a property? It’s nature.

    #157202

    Andrew Garulay, RLA
    Participant

    … until the internet and every anti-lawn blogger and his brother has produced volumes and volumes of “information” that groundcovers are much easier than lawns to maintain. The client can show documents supporting his argument that a healthy groundcover should be weed free …. junk science, but documentable.

     

    Facts used to be facts. Now a fact is what people want to believe is true rather than what is true. … but everyoner is happy that way.

    #157201

    Craig Anthony
    Participant

    Alan’s client is an idiot and there’s nothing you can do when a person like that comes up with some BS that goes against decades (maybe even centuries) of common gardening knowledge. If I’m going to worry, it will be about something like me under sizing a drainage system or making a bad materials selection. If one of my clients threatened to sue me over weeds, I’d smile and calmly walk away from the crazy bastard.

    #157200

    mark foster
    Participant

    Have been down this road so many times–not the suing part (knocking on wood now)–but the smallest, weirdest thing hacking a client off.  

    Walk away. You did a great job and are WAY far from the maintenance.  

    These types of clients are:

    1.  clueless

    2.  bullies 

    3.  upset about other things in their lives that they thought this project could fix.

    #157199

    Alan Ray, RLA
    Participant

    thanks mark,

    you  are correct, all of the above is true.

    even the contractor has my back on this one…imagine that!

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