A Brooklyn Jewish school says a Miami beach hotel refuses to refund a $2.3 million deposit for a Passover trip that was canceled over coronavirus concerns, according to a lawsuit.
A group of 1,200 teachers, students and parents from the Magen David Yeshiva day school community booked a 10-day trip for the Jewish holiday in April at the Eden Roc Hotel that was canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Miami Herald first reported.
But the hotel won’t refund the money the school put down to book the 621 rooms, event spaces, restaurants, pool and other hotel facilities, according to a lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade circuit court.
The school signed a three-year contract last summer with the hotel for the annual trip that included a cancellation clause for extenuating circumstances including for “disease outbreak,” in which case the hotel would have to issue a 100 percent refund, the court papers claim.
On March 9, the school told the hotel that many of the families who were traveling with the elderly wouldn’t be able to attend because of the “escalating problems presented by COVID-19,” the court documents say.
A few hours later, a lawyer for the hotel sent an email “demanding” the school pay another $1.2 million and “did not recognize or acknowledge the mushrooming COVID-19 catastrophe,” the court filings allege.
Instead, “in utter and contemptuous disregard of the health and safety” of attendees and locals, Eden Roc allegedly told the school that the trip could either be rescheduled or it would have to “proceed as scheduled with whomever was foolhardy enough to travel from New York to Miami Beach for the Passover 2020 event,” the lawsuit says.
Meanwhile, the hotel says on its website that it would be closed from March 22 through May 1.
The school told the hotel they would be canceling on March 18 and the hotel responded two days later, saying they rejected the school’s view that they could invoke the disease outbreak clause, adding it “will retain the entirety” of Magen David’s deposit, the court papers allege.
Magen David’s lawyer, Daniel Blonsky, told The Post the school “wanted to avoid litigation but it was left with no choice as a result of Eden Roc’s continued refusal to recognize what is happening, both in New York and in Miami Beach.”
A rep for the hotel did not immediately return a request for comment.