Am I liable for paying to have a client's vacation rental floor refinished if I did not do the damage?
Question Details: I own a small interior decorating business that I organized as an LLC. A few months ago, I arranged for a contractor to refinish a vacation rental homeowner's damaged wood floor. The contractor completed the work, using a commercial grade finish which I requested. I thought the floor looked good but the property management company complained about the work. The contractor re-sanded the floor and put on an additional coat of the finish at no cost. In the meantime, I purchased dining chairs for the homeowner and applied floor protector pads so the new chairs wouldn't scratch the floor. Recently, I was notified that there were scratches on the floor. I went to the rental and inspected the floor. Most of the scratches are in the breakfast bar area, with some scratches in other areas of the great room. In inspecting the bar stools, which were there before I was hired by the homeowner, I discovered that the pads were either missing or worn down. On one stool the metal bottom of the leg was exposed. Now the owner liaison for the property manager is stating that she is not sure the damage was all caused by the furniture. She is also demanding that the contractor and I correct the problem. She is blaming me for not applying pads to all the furniture and she blames the contractor for doing a poor job. This contractor has done a lot of work for the management company in the past and also present. He said he will not warranty a floor where furniture protective pads are not present. I reached out to the design community and the consensus was that they generally put pads on existing furniture. The bottom line here is I don't feel like I was responsible for the damage and I don't have the money to pay to have the floor refinished.
Liability depends on one of two things:
1) Contract, in this case a warranty: if you gave some sort of warranty or guaranty, you have to honor its terms.
2) Fault, typically in the form of negligence or unreasonable careless: that is, if you were unreasonably careless in some way in terms of what you did or did not do and that carelessness caused the damage, you can be held liable.
They have to be able to prove 1) or 2)--that you are contractually obligated, or that you were at fault--in order to hold you liable.