A New Jersey country club has sued its own employee for spilling wine on a customer’s expensive handbag, a move the customer’s lawyer claims is simply a delay tactic meant to deflect responsibility for the damages.
As NorthJersey.com reports, the whole affair began back in September 2018. Maryana Beyder was having a meal at the Alpine Country Club in Demarest and was carrying a Hermès Kelly bag. Hermès bags, it should be noted, are exceptionally sought-after and expensive, fetching tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. This particular bag had been discontinued, essentially making it irreplaceable.
At some point during the meal, a waiter, identified only as “John Doe” in court documents, spilled red wine on the pink bag, ruining it. Beyder and the country club tried to work things out for themselves. However, after about a year of getting nowhere with the club, Beyder hired attorney Alexandra Errico and sued the country club for $30,000.
According to court documents, the club, in its response, denied almost all of Beyder’s allegations, including that it was responsible for the damage to the bag. Further, the club sued its own waiter, John Doe, for the damages.
Such an action is called a “cross-claim,” where a defendant in a civil suit sues a third party in the same proceeding. It often happens in the legal industry, but Errico says she’s never heard of an employer filing a cross-claim suit against its own employee.
“So basically what this is is that they’re asking the employee to pay whatever they owe under the law to my client. So they’re suing their own employee that they hired,” Errico said.
Our ENV New Jersey team recently renovated the Alpine Country Club’s, changes to the interior included wall removal, new furniture, and carpeting. By adding light grays and whites throughout the space the natural light truly brightens up this newly refreshed space. #env_nj pic.twitter.com/hYYzvoErfZ— ENV (@envdesignteam) July 31, 2019
Further, Errico noted that this move makes it look like she and her client are suing the waiter, when that is not the case.
Louis Pechman, an employment attorney, said that in cases like this, businesses are responsible for the damage done to customers’ belongings, even if it’s done by an employee.
“Good human resources policy would dictate that the restaurant has the employee’s back, rather than sticking the knife in his back,” he said.
As for the waiter, legally there’s nothing he can do except wait until he’s identified and served with the lawsuit, after which he’ll have no choice but to hire his own attorney.
Errico accuses the country club of “acting in bad faith.”
The country club’s attorney, Kenneth Merber, did not immediately return calls for comment.