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July 20, 2020

Conrad O'Brien Defends COVID-19 Suit

One year ago, a South Jersey couple arranged for a lavish wedding celebration in a banquet room here.

Jesselyn Reyes and Ben Blancafor expected at least 175 guests from across the country, as well as Canada and the Philippines, to join them next month at Adelphia Restaurant.

But long before anyone could say, “I do,” the COVID-19 pandemic turned out to be a wedding crasher.

Reyes and Blancafor earlier this month canceled plans for the party — and now are suing the restaurant in a bid to recover their full payment of $17,500.

Their lawsuit argues Adelphia must return the couple's cash because it cannot provide the party they planned.


Reyes and Blancafor “did not contract for the wedding of their dreams to take place with full social distancing, with guests to touch or dance or even mingle, and with everyone including the bride in masks”, the lawsuit says.


Treats for guests would include a wedding cake, a groom’s cake, and a “sumptuous sweet table presentation…including a chocolate lava fountain & ice cream bar”, the couple’s contract says.


But the suit contends a large indoor wedding is “highly unlikely under current conditions” in New Jersey, where restaurant dining rooms have been closed since March to curb the spread of the coronavirus.


It also notes travel restrictions could keep some guest from reaching New Jersey.


An attorney for Adelphia has said the Clements Bridge Road restaurant is willing to reschedule the Aug. 29 party or to refund half of the payment under its cancellation policy.


But the lawyer, Joseph Grimes of Haddonfield, rejected the couple’s argument that the restaurant should be liable for “anticipatory breach of contract”.


“As of now, Adelphia’s expectation of…being fully ready, willing and able to perform on (Aug. 29) is reasonable,” Grimes said in a letter to the couple’s attorney, Robert Feltoon, Partner, Conrad O’Brien, Philadelphia.


The letter, filed as part of the lawsuit, says the restaurant “can certainly revisit the issue” if delays for the state’s reopening plan “unequivocally” impact the Aug. 29 date.


The letter was written June 18, when Grimes noted an expectation that indoor dining in New Jersey would resume “in early July.”


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