Dry docking company Fab Dock to appeal legal loss

A LEGAL battle between a boat owner and the manufacturers of a dry docking product, Fab Dock, looks like it isn't over yet.

Boat owner Brad Smith felt he had won a small victory for consumers when Gladstone Magistrate Penelope Hay sided with him in a case against Fab Dock owner Dean Howard --- but Mr Howard plans to appeal the decision, claiming it sets a "horrible precedent".

In August Mr Smith's boat was covered in growth that his $10,500 Fabdock was supposed to prevent; and his legal case against the owner of the company appeared to be lost in the legal system.

He had waited more than five months for an answer from the courts; so a frustrated Mr Smith came to the Observer for help.

Four days later, the magistrate announced her decision.

Magistrate Penelope Hay sided with Mr Smith; stating that his Fab Dock was not "fit for its purpose" and that the manufacturer of the product, Mr Howard, had failed to repair it.

"I'm stoked. It's a win for the consumer," he said.

But Mr Smith is still waiting to be paid and he hasn't used his boat for 12 months but does feel that "justice was served".

Mr Howard admits the service from his company hasn't been ideal but said he had hundreds of happy customers with Mr Smith the only disgruntled one because he didn't take care of the product.

He said that this decision could have ramifications in the inflatable manufacturing industry.

"If you drive around with flat tyres and they get a hole in them should you be able to get new tyres? That's what this decision says," he said. "I might have to organise the inflatable manufacturing industry to fight this together even to the high court.

"It sets a horrible precedent that could force us to close our doors."

Magistrate Hay's decision read that Mr Smith gave a detail version, supported by ...emails exchanged between himself and Mr Howard.

"On the other hand Mr Howard's version was, for the most part, unhelpful," it read.

"Where his version of events differed to that of Mr Smith, it was often also contradicted on the... evidence before me."

Mr Smith was awarded $10,794.60 including $10,500 for the Fabdock and $294.60 in legal fees.

How it happened

June 5, 2012 - Brad Smith pays $5250 to have Fab Dock installed

June 19, 2012 - Electrical pump connection is replaced by manufacturer after a fault

June 20, 2012 - Air pump fails

July 5, 2012 - Brad Smith pays the remaining $5250 of the purchase price

End of 2012 - Manufacturer replaces the air pump

July 2013 - Starboard and rear floats start to deflate

September/October 2012 - Dean Howard inspects the Fab Dock but disputes he said he'd be back to fix the problem

November/December 2013 - Leak worsenes; water is breaching the Fabdock

July 12, 2014 - Brad Smith accidentally puts a hole in it trying to fix the leak

July 19, 2014 - Brad Smith emails Dean Howard telling him he put a hole in the Fab Dock trying to fix it following Dean Howard's advice.

July 26, 2014 - Dean Howard tells Brad Smith to patch the hole; he does.

July-December 2014 - Brad Smith continues to call Dean Howard to find out when the ongoing leak will be fixed.

December 2014 - Brad Smith tells Dean Howard he needs the Fabdock repaired because the marina is threatening to charge him for two berths.

December 17, 2014 - Brad Smith sends a follow up email and and threatens Dean Howard with further action

January 9, 2015 - Further action is taken as Brad Smith lodges a claim with the Queensland Civil and Admiistrative Tribunal


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