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Snow Collapses Swimming Pool Enclosure

Friday 06 April 2018

When a glazed swimming pool enclosure collapsed under the weight of snow the owners sought damages from the manufacturer.

Snow falls can be quite frequent in Marlhes, a small town located in the department of Loire (Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes), and with a limited summer season it is not surprising that some owners decide to install an enclosure over their pool.

However, when a heavy winter snowfall caused the glazed roof on one enclosure to collapse from the weight of the snow the owners decided to bring action for damages against the supplier.

In papers presented to the court, all sides agreed that the enclosure complied with relevant French technical standards, that it showed no manufacturing defect, and that it had been installed on-site in a proper manner, points confirmed by the court appointed expert witness.

It was also accepted that the owners had been supplied with a manufacturer’s notice that explicitly mentioned the need to clear the roof of snow.

When the case was heard in the court of appeal, the judges ruled that despite the difficulties that might be faced by the owner to clear the roof of snow, and that snowfalls in the area could be frequent and heavy, it did not make the enclosure unsuitable.

However, the owners appealed the decision to the Cour de Cassation, who quashed the decision, ruling that the owners were owed a duty of care by the supplier to ensure that the pool enclosure was suitable for their circumstances, notably for the weather conditions in the area.

They considered that the seller had an obligation to inquire about the needs of his client and to inform him about the suitability of the proposed enclosure for the intended use. The fact that they did not do so made them liable for damages to their client.

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