Conn. Court Upholds $15K Verdict in Wedding Date Lawsuit

By | February 14, 2008

A Connecticut appeals court has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that awarded a bride $15,000 for emotional distress following a “Shakespearean drama of confusion and lost opportunities” that resulted in her having to move her wedding location two years after booking it.

At the heart of the case was a dispute between an engaged couple, Maureen Murphy and Jason Martin, and the Nutmeg State location the bride-to-be picked for her wedding: Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, Conn.

According to court documents, Murphy visited the Manor with her mother, Sandra Powers, in February 2003 in search of a location that could accommodate a three-day wedding bash – Friday night rehearsal, Saturday evening reception and after-party and a Sunday brunch – on the weekend of Sept. 10, 2005. Powers and Murphy signed a contract agreeing with the Manor and gave a $2,000 deposit.

That’s when the trouble started. Less than a year later, letters, unreturned phone calls and unanswered e-mails were traded between the Manor’s owner, Andrew Silverston, and Powers. Confusion ensued, as did numerous unreturned letters, phone calls e-mails by both parties. The Manor claimed it never received a deposit, nor affirmation that the couple had reserved the location, and subsequently booked another wedding on the date. That information was contradicted by the contract, the court found.

In the end, Murphy and Martin were required after two years of planning to find a new location for their wedding reception for the same date.

According to the ruling: “After calling numerous sites, the plaintiff was able to find one venue with availability, but she had to hold the wedding in the morning and the reception could last only until 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The wedding that took place on that date was a far cry from the weekend celebration the plaintiff originally had planned. The plaintiff testified that these events were the most stressful in her life. Powers described her daughter as devastated.”

The couple sued the Manor, and in 2006, a lower court awarded the couple $2,000 in economic damages for breach of contract and $15,000 in compensatory damages for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The Manor appealed the $15,000 sum, claiming it was undeserved, inappropriate and too much.

The court disagreed with that view, finding that “The manor is in the business of hosting weddings and receptions. It is in a position to see how clients react to a myriad of wedding related mishaps… The cancelling of an event that (Murphy and Martin) had been planning for two years would naturally and foreseeably cause her distress, particularly given the difficulty of moving the multiday festivities (Friday night dinner through Sunday brunch) to another venue with only seven months’ notice.”

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