In the latest development in a year-long legal tug-of-war that has been carried out since the September 2018 incident at Alpine CC in Demarest, N.J., the club has filed a cross-claim against an unnamed server for the damage that occurred to the purse valued at $30,000.
After a New Jersey woman sued a country club for $30,000 when a waiter spilled wine on her ultra-expensive purse, NorthJersey.com reported, the country club has responded by suing the waiter, records show.
In a response to the lawsuit filed on October 29 by Maryana Beyder against Alpine Country Club in Demarest, N.J., NorthJersey.com reported, the club denied almost every one of Beyder’s allegations—including that it was liable for the damage to her Hermès Kelly bag— and then sued its own employee, according to court records.
The action that Alpine CC took in its response is called a cross-claim, NorthJersey.com reported, in which one defendant sues another in the same proceeding.
Calls to Kenneth Merber, the attorney for the club, were not immediately returned, NorthJersey.com reported.
Louis Pechman, an employment attorney who says he has handled at least 200 restaurant-pay lawsuits, told NorthJersey.com that the waiter should not be liable.
“In general, the labor laws protect waiters from having deductions from their wages because of breakage, walkout or other issues that are really the responsibility of the restaurant or the catering hall,” said Pechman, who founded WaiterPay, a website that promotes awareness of restaurant employee rights.
For now, there is nothing for the waiter to do except wait until he’s identified and served, Pechman said. At that point, the waiter will likely have to hire a lawyer himself, he said.
But Pechman sees the cross-claim as unusual and at odds with human resources policy that should side with the employee, NorthJersey.com reported.
The response filed by the club on November 7th is the latest in a more than year-long tug-of-war between the club and Beyder after a dinner went awry, allegedly leaving a luxury handbag irreversibly damaged, NorthJersey.com reported.
On Sept. 7, 2018, Beyder was having a meal at Alpine CC when a waiter spilled red wine on the pink handbag, according to the lawsuit. (Reports on the lawsuit did not clarify whether Beyder was a member of the club or a guest.)
The handbag was a 30th birthday gift for Beyder from her husband, Alexandra Errico, Beyder’s attorney, told NorthJersey.com, and was rare, having been discontinued, and essentially irreplaceable, the lawsuit claimed.
“Whoever the waiter was proceeded to pour red wine and didn’t stop,” Errico said. “Poured it all over her. Poured it all over her husband. And poured it all over a very expensive Hermès bag.”
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.
“It’s sort of like a rich-person problem,” Errico said after the filing for the $30,000 value of the bag. “They couldn’t comprehend that a bag could be that much. I think that was the biggest problem with that. They kind of discriminated against her that she actually owned that type of bag.”
Hermès handbags are often priced in the tens of thousands, NorthJersey.com reported. 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.
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 told NorthJersey.com. The waiter was not named in Beyder’s lawsuit, called only “John Doe.”
“The way the story reads 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.”