It all started with a handbag.
Maryana Beyder’s wasn’t just any ordinary bag, though. It was a pink Hermès Kelly clutch, since discontinued by the pricey French fashion house. Beyder’s husband had gifted her the purse, worth $30,000, as a 30th birthday present.
So after a waiter at a posh New Jersey country club spilled some red wine on the luxury handbag last year, the real estate agent sued for negligence, demanding that the Alpine Country Club pay her the eye-popping price of her spoiled handbag.
That lawsuit had already made local headlines, but on Monday, the club in Demarest responded with a surprising move of its own: It’s now suing its own employee – the waiter who allegedly spilled the wine – in the latest legal development after a dinner gone downhill.
Beyder and her husband were enjoying a meal at the clubhouse on Sept. 7, 2018, when a server named in the lawsuit only as “John Doe” approached their table.
“Whoever the waiter was proceeded to pour red wine and didn’t stop,” Beyder’s lawyer, Alexandra Errico, told the North Jersey Record. “Poured it all over her. Poured it all over her husband. And poured it all over a very expensive Hermès bag.”
Like the country club, Errico did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post.
Perhaps for as long as they have existed, the gold-accented Hermès bags, named after Grace Kelly, have been considered a sign of luxury, in no small part due to their high price tags and limited quantity. The bottoms of the bags are crafted with three layers of leather, and celebrity owners include Jennifer Lopez, Victoria Beckham, and Kylie and Kendall Jenner.
Beyder’s handbag is far from the costliest item sold by Hermès. In 2017, one of its purses – made from the hide of a Nile River crocodile, with 18-karat gold buckles and diamond-encrusted strap loops – was sold for about $376,000 at an auction in Hong Kong.
But her purse was still valuable enough to become the subject of a year-long legal battle between Beyder and the club.
Initially, her attorney said, she reached out to Alpine Country Club to resolve the matter, but the establishment eventually stopped responding to her complaints. The same was true of her insurance company, which failed to comprehend how a bag could have such a high price tag, Errico said.
But as she noted to the New York Post, the club is “very, very, very rich.” So Beyder sued on Oct. 29 in Bergen County Superior Court.
Alpine Country Club, which was founded in 1928 by a group of civic leaders who called themselves the “forty millionaires,” boasts 196 acres of rolling green hills, an 18-hole golf course, and the four-bedroom, six-bathroom condo of Eric Bolling, the former Fox News host who agreed to leave the network after reports that he had sent sexually explicit photos to colleagues. Members of the club are reportedly required to pay a $65,000 initiation fee, plus $19,000 in annual dues.
“She didn’t wear it apple picking. She wore it to a very expensive country club where she was a member,” Errico told NJ.com. “If you bring your car to a country club and it gets scratched up, you expect the club to pay for it.”
In court documents filed Monday, the country club insisted it wasn’t liable for the damage to her purse, the Record reported, in addition to suing its own employee.
Errico said she was appalled that the country club has chosen to take on the cross-claim, a motion in which one defendant sues another in the same proceeding.
“We were not trying to collect any money from the waiter,” she told the New York Post on Monday. “There was never any intention of my client to go after this person at all. The only intention was to have the employer take responsibility.”
But she spared the country club a similar kind of remorse. By failing to answer her client, Errico suggested, Alpine was discriminating against her client for owning such an expensive accessory.
“It’s sort of like a rich person problem,” she told VICE News. “They couldn’t comprehend that a bag could be that much. … They kind of discriminated against her that she actually owned that type of bag.”