Washington DC, June 24, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- One enterprising D.C. lawyer’s recent court victory for her client marks an important ruling that could help thousands of people and businesses recoup thousands of dollars in deposits for events they planned that never happened due to the pandemic.
The decision strengthens efforts to force repayments of deposits held by reluctant vendors who have been fighting to keep the money, said lawyer Mohaimina Haque.
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals in a June 3 order (june3order.pdf) rejected Washington Parks & People’s bid to overturn a lower court ruling that Washington Parks & People must return a $7,800 deposit that Kerstin Tebbe, owner of Washington D.C.-based networking consultancy Collective Mind, paid for an event that would host up to 250 people. The event was slated for June 2020, but it was postponed indefinitely after pandemic restrictions took effect.
In particular, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued orders that ultimately limited gatherings to no more than 10 people, which made it impossible for the 250-person event to take place.
Tebbe contacted the Washington Parks and People and asked for a refund of the deposit, noting that the mayor’s orders made it illegal to proceed with the event – and that the contract with Washington Parks & People was now invalidated. She alleged that Washington Parks & People offered to host an event with guests socially distanced, or to host it on a much later date with a 50 percent hike in costs.
Finding either outcome fundamentally at odds with her initial event plans, Tebbe enlisted the help of leading D.C. attorney Haque to win back her money.
Haque, who is licensed in the District of Columbia and Missouri, offers her rapidly growing list of clients a wide range of legal services covering employment, immigration, personal injury, false advertising, and – most importantly to Tebbe’s case – business law.
“This case is not just a legal victory to get Kerstin her hard-earned money back for an event that could never have happened, but it’s also a moral victory,” said Haque. “If a contract can’t be fulfilled, whether due to a pandemic or anything else, you deserve to get your deposit back.”
Haque won an April order (superior.pdf) by the Superior Court of the District of Columbia’s Civil Division that Washington Parks & People had to refund Tebbe’s $7,800 deposit and pay her post judgment interest on the deposit amount.
The judge noted how impractical it would have been to hold the event in June 2020 under the conditions that Washington Parks and People suggested, and that doing so would have amounted to a fundamental change in the contract. Similarly, the judge said if Washington Parks and People postponed the event by many months without Tebbe’s consent, it would also make the contract impossible to fulfill.
Major D.C. law firm Wiley Rein represented the event venue, but in a true David versus Goliath story, Haque led her client to victory, a ruling the appeals court has now upheld.
“This sets an important precedent for the tens of thousands of people and businesses in similar situations where the pandemic disrupted their event plans and yet venues, photographers, videographers and the like never refunded their deposits,” said Haque. “It’s simply not fair to keep deposits when an event is canceled due to something as unpredictable as Covid-19.”
Although the ruling is not binding in other states, Haque said she hopes other attorneys take note if their clients are desperately trying to recoup costs from similarly canceled events.
“If you have given up hope on ever getting your deposit back from any type of event that was canceled due to the pandemic, think again – this case shows that there are judges who understand that a refund is simply fair,” said Haque.
The Law Office Of Mohaimina Haque PLLC
Mohaimina (Mina) Haque
Phone Number: 202-355-6384