ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - A bride is suing Pippin Hill Vineyard in Albemarle County for more than $32,000 in deposits for a wedding the pandemic cancelled.
Heather Heldman and Amir Neeman got engaged in 2018, and set the date for June, 2020 at Pippin Hill. But when COVID-19 began to spread in March, they worked with the venue to reschedule for October 9, and changed some of the contract language.
Heldman claims in her lawsuit, both sides agreed, if the new date did not work, Pippin would refund her $32,000 deposit.
In August, Heldman and her fiance’ asked guests, traveling from other states and countries, if they would be able to attend in October. Only 15 percent said yes, so she called Pippin to call it off.
But, since county restrictions allowed her to legally hold the wedding in October, she says the vineyard would not refund her request.
“You know, Pippin had not expended any significant resources on buying food or anything like that for our specific event as contemplated for the ninth. And here we are, you know, it’s been a legal standoff since basically mid-August”, said Heldman.
Heldman says Pippin Hill offered to refund about 9 thousand dollars, but she does not feel that is fair.
We reached out to Pippin Hill and the owners gave us the following statement:
"We are deeply disappointed that the Heldman’s elected to file suit, as we have worked diligently with them for many months to find a mutually acceptable solution, including refunding a greater portion of their deposits than their contract stated. We have not been served with a copy of their lawsuit. They have rejected all our settlement offers to date. They booked with us in December 2018 for a May 2020 date, and at their request, we executed an amended contract with no added expense for the October 2020 wedding date that met with their approval.
Our COVID daily operating and service protocols are above and beyond the CDC guidelines, including installation of hospital grade air purification systems in our event space. We were fully capable of hosting their wedding within the County & Commonwealth guidelines. We stringently abide by all social distancing and exceed mitigation guidelines. As proof of our commitment, we have safely and successfully hosted six weddings since August and have a further six before the end of this year.
While we are sympathetic and understanding of these challenging times for all, we are committed to safely employing our dedicated staff, and their families depend on their paychecks.
In sum, we accommodated Heldman’s' request to reschedule and were ready, willing, and able to host their wedding on their chosen date while meeting all applicable guidelines. Unfortunately, the Heldman’s rejected our fair and reasonable settlement offer, cut off all communications, and filed a lawsuit. We are disappointed in this turn of events but remain confident in our position and our efforts to resolve this dispute".