Houses, cars, and heavy equipment. None are immune from redhibitory defects. Redhibitory defects are vices hidden from the buyer and which render the thing useless, or its use so inconvenient that it must be presumed that a buyer would not have bought the thing had he known of the defect or when, without rendering the thing totally useless, it diminishes its usefulness or its value so that it must be presumed that a buyer would still have bought it but for a lesser price. Louisiana’s redhibition action is set out in CC Article 2520 et seq. In every day terms, this is known as Louisiana’s lemon laws action.
The action is unique to Louisiana with the buyer seeking a full refund (rescission of the sale) or reduction in price. Whether a party still has a claim to this action or whether the claim has prescribed turns on whether the seller did or did not know of the existence of the hidden defect:
- The action for redhibition against a seller who did not know of the existence of a defect in the thing sold prescribes in four years from the day delivery of such thing was made to the buyer or one year from the day the defect was discovered by the buyer, whichever occurs first
- The action for redhibition against a seller who knew, or is presumed to have known, of the existence of a defect in the thing sold prescribes in one year from the day the defect was discovered by the buyer.
- In any case prescription is interrupted when the seller accepts the thing for repairs and commences anew from the day he tenders it back to the buyer or notifies the buyer of his refusal or inability to make the required repairs.
See CC Article 2534.
If the seller did not know of the defect, the buyer must give the seller notice of the existence of a redhibitory defect in the thing sold. That notice must be sufficiently timely as to allow the seller the opportunity to make the required repairs. A buyer who fails to give that notice suffers diminution of the warranty to the extent the seller can show that the defect could have been repaired or that the repairs would have been less burdensome, had he received timely notice. See CC Article 2522.
If a seller is unable to make repairs or fails to do so, he is then bound to return the price to the buyer with interest from the time it was paid, and to reimburse him for the reasonable expenses occasioned by the sale, as well as those incurred for the preservation of the thing, less the credit to which the seller is entitled if the use made of the thing, or the fruits it has yielded, were of some value to the buyer. See CC Article 2531.
A primary point of difference between Louisiana and other states is that its lemon law (CC Article 2520 et seq.) can apply to homes as well. It is often the case that Sellers will specifically include or exclude a Warranty against redhibition in the Act of Sale/Agreement to Purchase.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a sale involving redhibitory defects, learn about your legal rights from an experienced New Orleans attorney by filling out our free, no obligation case review form located on this website.