Stunning new court filing accuses Lagoon catamaran firm of shoddy work, deceit

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Stunning new evidence against the French catamaran maker Lagoon has emerged in the Florida court battle over the Double Down — the problem-plagued elite-class 78-foot catamaran that was supposed to be ready to take on the world’s oceans, but wasn’t.

In court papers filed recently in the Broward County, Fla., lawsuit brought by our partnership, Best Buddies in Motion, Ltd., the vessel’s vendor — Florida-based Catamaran Sales, Inc. –largely agreed with our principal claims that parent company CNC/Lagoon delivered a yacht that wasn’t built to its ocean-faring specifications, then failed to make promised repairs and was frequently dishonest throughout its dealings.

“Lagoon was obligated to deliver a vessel in conformity with the sale documents as a Class A — oceangoing vessel; Lagoon was obligated to inspect and conduct necessary repairs including the noise problem, the anodic issues, and the steering failures and was obligated to rebuild/repair the hardened platform in accordance with the specifications of Plaintiff’s engineer,” lawyers for Catamaran Sales, or CatCo, wrote in a counter-claim. (You can read the whole document here.)

“Lagoon failed to perform in all its undertakings, failed to abide by its promises and warranties; and failed to provide [the owners] and CatCo with complete and correct information,” according to attorneys for the Fort Lauderdale broker.

The firm’s filing pointedly backs up some of our main assertions in going to court over the vessel that has proved to be mostly a lemon since the day that it was delivered. It’s more proof that Lagoon was fully aware that the Double Down was not – as advertised – a yacht capable of circumnavigating the globe, and that it failed to inform either them or us about an accident that occurred as the ship was traveling through the Gibraltar Straights en route to Florida.

 It singles out Frédéric Signat, the Maryland-based regional sales director for Lagoon America, for criticism for deceitful statements about the Gibraltar accident, the failure to build to specifications and other matters.

“On numerous occasions,” the complaint alleges, “Frédéric Signat made false statements of material fact that were unethical and unscrupulous and were deceptively calculated to mislead and injure CatCo.”

The filing by Catamaran Sales isn’t the only new development since our partnership filed suit in an effort to force CNB/ Lagoon, which is arguably the world’s best-known maker of upscale catamarans, to deal with our 78-footer. Now the company’s lawyers have asked us to refrain from any independent efforts to find a new buyer, and to stop publicizing our issues with the boat and our lawsuit.

We just can’t do that. After nearly two years of struggles to finally realize the Double Down as the catamaran that we hoped it would be — able to allow us to circumnavigate the world for a second time this has evolved into a matter of critical consumer protection. Under the current state of affairs, I still feel compelled to speak out about the world’s largest manufacturer of multi-hulled vessels, CNB/Lagoon, whose performance has fallen far short of its sterling reviews.

Because, the thing is, the boat is getting worse.

Our efforts to maintain the Double Down over the summer in the waters off Croatia have been complicated not only by continued corrosion – one of many problems that our investigation has shown resulted from problems during the catamaran’s initial construction – but also from a series of new leaks.

In a letter to CNC/Lagoon officials dated August 21, our director of Best Buddies in Motion – Clive Azzopardi – forcefully reasserts our right to continue to market the Double Down and calls for prompt action on making the catamaran more seaworthy. Wrote Azzopardi: “BBIM was going to send the yacht (back to North America) on its own bottom, but cannot do that in light of the uncertainties pertaining to her seaworthiness for a transatlantic sailing.”

Professionally, I’m an environmental attorney. And that’s mostly what I write here about. But I’m also a human being – a cancer survivor who was blessed to circumnavigate the globe at the time of my initial diagnosis five years ago and has been looking forward to making it around our planet once again.

I once thought that would happen on the aptly named Double Down. But the negligence on display in the flawed building of this catamaran, the inability to fix subsequent problems and the series of untruths attached to the situation are why I’m using my megaphone to broadcast what really happened.

As I wrote in my initial post a month ago, the problems began not very long after my partner and I first decided to purchase the 78-foot vessel at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in late 2017. Not until long after the fact did we learn that the yacht we named the Double Down had been damaged on its first transatlantic voyage, while passing through the Gibraltar Straights.

We also didn’t know at first about the errors made by the mostly Polish construction crew which failed to properly laminate the main deck, which would have properly strengthened it. Sold to us as a so-called Category A vessel able to handle the worst weather of the open seas, a subsequent owner’s manual from Lagoon advised caution for handling waves greater than one meter — a feature more in line with a coastal day cruiser.

Our efforts to understand the constant issues with the vessel resulted in prolonged negotiations and a settlement agreement in 2018, but not only has Lagoon failed to keep its promises of repairs but new issues continue to arise, including corrosion and leaks and even high noises in the right stern of the vessel that annoyed guests and kept them awake. I had hoped things would never reach this tangled state of affairs, but here we are. (You can read our lawsuit here.)

In weighing in with their cross-complaint in our Broward County lawsuit, Catamaran Sales – a company with knowledge and experience in the field — has now fully endorsed our version of events and the seriousness of our complaint.

The only way that I’ll stop writing about Lagoon catamarans is when the company finally decides to make things right. Without that commitment, the company’s international reputation for making high quality boats is something of a mirage. And I’ll continue to inform the public of the reality of what we’ve dealt with over the last two years.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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