A Morristown dad and lawyer did what many people wish they could have done: get a refund for an event canceled during the pandemic because of restrictions ordered by Gov. Phil Murphy closing businesses and limiting capacities.

Weddings, parties, dances, celebrations and concerts were all affected, which not only caused disappointment but also financial loss in some cases from venues that would not refund deposits. Venues also suffered as they could not book new business because it was not clear when executive orders would be lifted.

One of those people who lost money was Morristown attorney Barry Bordetsky, who had paid $23,000 in 2018 for his daughter's bat mitzvah at Club 4Sixty6 in West Orange. The event had been scheduled for April 4, 2020 with dancing, open bar and buffet dinner for 150 children and adults, according to the complaint in the lawsuit he filed against the caterer to get his money back.

Because all restaurants and catering facilities were unable to open under Murphy's executive orders, the event was rescheduled to May 23. Then Sept. 11. It was rescheduled one last time to March 20, 2021 but restrictions still would not allow a large gathering. Bordetsky asked for his money back.

The caterer offered 50% minus a $2,000 deposit, which Bordetsky turned down. He also rejected an offer to use the money for another similar event in the fall or in the future because he has no other children.

"There was simply no way to fulfill the reasonable expectations of the parties from March 2020 to the present," Superior Court Judge William McGovern wrote in his ruling in favor of Bordetsky.

Bordetsky said that while McGovern's ruling specifically states that the case will not be considered precedent, it could provide guidance for similar cases in the future.

"I think that one of the critical components here is that in my case these were guys who were just holding the money. They took from Barry and they paid themselves. There was no event moving forward. They didn't have any expenses. They decided to keep the money," Bordetsky told New Jersey 101.5. "To demonstrate the breadth of the bad faith they conceded in their papers that they weren't entitled to all the money yet never provided any of it back."

Bordetsky thinks that catering venues count on the fact that when someone who is not an attorney is in the same situation they won't know what to do.

The bat mitzvah did happen in Bordetsky's  backyard but his family had been looking forward to celebrating the milestone in a bigger way.

"It's night and day. You can't even compare it. It's was a party to celebrate. That didn't happen," Bordetsky said.

 

A man who answered the phone at Club 4Sixty6 told New Jersey 101.5 the club had no comment.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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