After a New Jersey woman sued a country club for $30,000 when a waiter spilled wine on her ultra-expensive purse, the country club responded by suing the waiter, records show.
In a response to the lawsuit filed Oct. 29 by Maryana Beyder against the Alpine Country Club in New Jersey, the club denied almost every one of Beyder’s allegations – including that it was liable for the damage to her Hermès Kelly bag – and capped off the response by suing its own employee, according to court records.
The action is called a cross-claim, in which one defendant sues another in the same proceeding.
“So basically, what this is is that they’re asking the employee to pay whatever they owe under the law to my client,” said Alexandra Errico, Beyder’s attorney. “So they’re suing their own employee that they hired.”
Calls to Kenneth Merber, the attorney for the country club, were not immediately returned.
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The response filed Thursday is the latest in a more than yearlong tug-of-war between the club and Beyder after a dinner went awry, allegedly leaving a luxury handbag irreversibly damaged.
On Sept. 7, 2018, Beyder was having a meal at the Alpine Country Club when a waiter spilled red wine on the pink handbag, according to the lawsuit. The handbag was rare – having been discontinued – and essentially irreplaceable. The bag was a 30th birthday gift for Beyder from her husband, Errico said.
For nearly a year, Beyder tried to resolve the dispute with the country club directly, Errico said, but the club dragged out the discussions and stopped being responsive. Even the insurance company was dismissive and failed to understand why a bag would cost so much, she said.
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Though Errico acknowledged that the waiter’s spill was an accident, she said any lawsuit needs to describe in detail what happened, in this case specifying who spilled the wine, she said. The waiter was not named in Beyder’s lawsuit, called only “John Doe.”
“The way the story read is that somehow we’re blaming the employee,” Errico said. “We’re not. Not at all. You go to any restaurant. You have a leather jacket on, $100, $50, $20. If a waiter spills on it and it’s destroyed, you’re expecting the restaurant to compensate you for that particular item.”
Hermès handbags are often priced in the tens of thousands. In 2017, a Hermès handbag sold at an auction in Hong Kong for $377,000, breaking the world record for most expensive bag sold at auction.
“They did not have to sue their own employee,” Errico said. “It basically shows that they really are acting in bad faith.”
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