For more than a year, Karina Eddé spent just about every waking minute dreaming up her perfect wedding. Dozens of friends and relatives would fly in from around the world, meet on a giant yacht festooned with handmade decorations on the Miami River, and then sail in the moonlight to celebrate.
Fairy-tale stuff. Until it turned into a nightmarish fiery hellscape. Eddé says the Miami companies she hired to run her floating wedding reception botched her dream ceremony. And she's been in therapy for post-traumatic depression -- yeah, the same condition afflicting Iraq War vets who narrowly survived bloody roadside bombings.
"I still think about it every day," Eddé says. "It's a wedding, not a birthday that you get to have every year. It's once in a lifetime, and mine was ruined."
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Back on the boat, though, a fire had started in the kitchen. Managers from the company, called Great Bay, waited a half-hour to call 911, Eddé claims. The fire was extinguished, but smoke had filled the boat.
Even worse, the bride claims, no one called her to tell her about the fire. When Eddé and her guests arrived around 10 p.m., they weren't allowed aboard and were instead shepherded into the Hyatt's lobby, where her handmade decorations were haphazardly strewn about. Eddé stayed five minutes and then left in tears.
Now, a year and a half later, she's filed suit against Great Bay and Escopazzo, the company that catered the event. She takes anti-depression meds and was so scarred she even "had to forego her attendance as the maid of honor at her best friend's wedding," according to the suit. She wants her money back plus damages.
Adam Stanley, Great Bay's general manager, says the caterer was to blame for starting the fire. He sent this statement about the lawsuit:
Unfortunately, I was not with the company back in 2010 and have no direct knowledge of the incident. The Carrousel has been relocated to Nassau about one and half years ago.
However, I can assure you that as a US Coast Guard certified vessel the Carrousel always maintained the proper number of fire extinguishers onboard the vessel; safety is always our first priority. As I understand it, the incident concerned a fire in the vessel's kitchen deep fryer while dockside and under the control of the Ms. Edde's caterer. The proper method to fight such a fire would have been to first utilize the fire blanket which is always mounted in the vessel's galley (kitchen). As grease/oil would have been involved, a fire extinguisher would probably not have been the safest way to fight such a fire.
The charterer (Karina Edde) would have been responsible for the actions of the directly contracted caterer/employee, making the charterer responsible for the damages to the vessel, and thus probably the reason for the outstanding dispute. We feel terrible for Karina Edde and her family; but, these events were out of our control and I am sure the company did its best to mitigate the situation when it occurred almost 2 years ago.
Escopazzo's attorney, Emilia Diaz Fox, says the restaurant's owner, Giancarla Bodoni, did everything she could to make the wedding a joyful affair and that the boat's "hazardous kitchen" was to blame. Here's her statement on the suit:
On February 14th, 2011, I wrote a letter to Ms. Edde's attorney in which, among other things, I stated the following:
""I cannot stop you from filing a complaint but if you do, rest assured that we are going to file every conceivable affirmative defense and appropriate counter-claim and we are going to attack the credibility of your clients and of any "experts" that they might produce. We will also request attorney's fees and costs.
Instead of threatening Escopazzo with a lawsuit, your clients should show Ms. Giancarla Bodoni some gratitude. She did not pick Carrousel Yacht as the venue for her wedding; your clients did. Her staff transported the food to the ship and it is not her fault that your clients chose a ship with a hazardous kitchen. She incurred damages because she has never been paid for the food that she brought to the ship or for the wages for her employees who transported the food, etc.
After having incurred monetary losses and having her food ruined, Ms. Bodoni did not have any responsibility to your clients. None of it was her fault. However, out of the goodness of her heart, she opened up Escopazzo for the wedding party which lasted until way past midnight.
She served magnificent food. There was much merriment. Everyone was having a lot of fun. There are witnesses who will testify to the "mood of the party." In light of this, you are going to have an uphill battle trying to prove that the bride's life has been ruined, that she has been depressed and sleepless ever since and that she has been forced to seek treatment from a "certified mental health professional."
It is so unfortunate that we live in a society where "anybody can be sued for nothing."