Groom’s Death Said to Leave Caterer Unmoved

     JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) – A Florida woman and her parents claim in court that a wedding caterer refused to return their deposit after her fiancé was burned to death in a tractor-trailer collision.
     In a complaint filed in Duval County Circuit Court, Sarah Meek and her parents, Joseph Meek and Debra Troupe say they hired Chef Anthony Pepe and Jacksonville Wedding Services to provide bartending and catering services for Sarah’s planned marriage to Adam Banicki on May 28, 2016.
     Jacksonville Wedding Services does business under the name Tie The Knot Catering/Jacksonville Bartending Services.
     In August 2015, Meek and Tie The Knot agreed on $5,057.77 for catering and bartending services for the wedding and she paid the company $2,928.90 between June 10, 2015 and September 28, 2015 as prepayments and deposits, according to the complaint.
     On Oct. 7, 2015, nine days after Meek paid the final, $1,264.45 deposit to the defendants, Banicki, a long-haul driver for UPS, died in a fiery wreck on Interstate-20 outside of Dallas, Texas.
     At the time, Banicki was part of a two-man UPS long haul team with fellow driver William Harris, and was in the sleeper birth of the tractor-trailer in which they were traveling when it collided with another truck.
     “The UPS truck burst into flames, burning both Mr. Harris and Mr. Banicki alive in the cab,” the complaint says.
     Four days later, Troupe says, she emailed Pepe and the catering firm, and told them Banicki had been killed and the wedding was cancelled. According to the complaint, Pepe offered his condolences to the family and e-mailed a cancellation form which was timely returned to Chef Pepe and Tie the Knot.
     The plaintiffs had expected their prepayments to be returned, less $200 as per the cancellation policy contained in their contract. But when they received a check from the defendants, it was only for $1,795.35, the complaint says.
     Troupe says she contacted Pepe and told him they would not accept the partial refund and requested the refund required under the contract. Since then, the complaint says, the plaintiffs have repeatedly tried to get their full refund, only to be rebuffed.
     “Rather than honoring his obligations under the contract … Defendants attempted to extort out of Plaintiffs an agreement to remain silent about the Defendants’ outrageous conduct under the circumstances of this case refusing to pay back wedding event deposit money when a fiancé was burned to death in a crash that occurred more than 7 months before the planned weddings in that Defendants told Plaintiffs that if Plaintiffs would keep silent (no negative reviews, no negative media postings, etc. …) about Defendants conduct, Defendants would agree to refund $1,928.90,” the complaint says.
     Meeks and her family seek compensatory damages.
     They are represented by Curry Pajcic of Jacksonville, Fla.
     Pepe told Courthouse News that he wasn’t sure why the matter would go through the court at all. “It’s absolutely untrue… I already agreed to give them their money back,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday night.
     He also stated that he had e-mails to prove that he agreed to refund the family’s money and that the attorney hasn’t properly followed through to settle the matter.
     Curry Pajcic told Courthouse News that the caterer continues to refuse to give the family a full refund, and that, as claimed in the complaint, even the offer of a partial refund was conditioned upon the family signing a confidentiality agreement.
     Pajcic went on to say that he isn’t being paid to handle the case.
     “The reason we’re representing them is to right a wrong,” Pajcic said in a phone interview Monday morning. “Who knows if he had done this to some other people.”

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