What's worse than emerging from a delicious meal at a hip hotel to find your six-figure Porsche wrecked by valet drivers? Getting banned for life from the hotel chain over the crash.
That's what one Key Biscayne resident alleges happened to him at SoBe hot spot Soho Beach House. Now, in perhaps Miami's most First-World complaint ever, he wants to expose the members-only club and get compensation for his wrecked ride.
"Why should my freedom be infringed upon for damages they have caused?" says Robert Larsson, a fruit exporting company executive.
Larsson's trouble began October 15, when a Soho member invited him to dinner at the acclaimed Cecconi's Italian restaurant on the property. He'd had the $125,000 2013 Porsche Panamera GT for only five weeks when he handed the keys to a valet from USA Parking System -- and then watched in horror as the driver attempted to cross three lanes of oncoming traffic on Collins Avenue to reach Soho's driveway.
"He hit another car," Larsson says. "It was pretty serious impact. The air bags were deployed."
Initially, Larsson says, USA Parking offered him only $6,124 when he asked for $40,000 to fix the damage. After five months of haggling and pressuring Soho's general manager, Michael Ryan, USA Parking agreed to pay $25,000, according to emails and letters Larsson provided Banana Republican. He was supposed to get his check January 25 -- but then came the caveat.
Larsson says USA Parking's lawyer, Melanie Damian, sent him a release to sign that would ban him from setting foot on any Soho property around the world, from London to New York to Berlin. (USA Parking executive vice president L. Garry DeMayo did not return phone calls seeking comment.)
Larsson balked. "Why do they need to ban me?" he asks. "What if this happened to someone less fortunate than me?"
A Soho spokeswoman who did not want to be identified says Soho "has been very cooperative with Mr. Larsson." She declined further comment because he has threatened to sue Soho and USA Parking over the ban.
Follow Francisco Alvarado on Twitter: @thefrankness.
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