MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCSC) - Two vendors who planned to have a New Year’s event on the USS Yorktown have sued the Patriots Point Development Authority after the event was postponed.
On Friday, Robert Patterson, manager of the Top Shelf Catering Company, and Jeffery Swank, manager of Vidorra Productions, filed a lawsuit against the development authority after organizers said the PPDA postponed the event at the last minute without giving public notice.
The organizers said they learned that their event had been cancelled on the news.
At the time, a spokesperson for the board said the decision was made with the coronavirus in mind. Patterson said had the board discussed the possibility of the postponement a week or two before the event, he would have cancelled the event himself.
“But to do it 24 hours before the event is supposed to take place with no regard to all the businesses that have put all the time and money and energy into putting this on. . . it is the most irresponsible thing that I have ever seen in business,” Patterson said at the time who estimated that preparations had cost him around $200,000.
Organizers said they and other business involved in the event suffered “substantial” monetary loss, as well as people who purchased tickets and spent money on travel and accommodations.
Both vendors are suing for breach of contract and have demanded a jury trial. Organizers said that the 1,000 person event was not prohibited by any local, state or federal regulations at the time of the postponement.
They cited a guidance regulation by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control on mass gatherings related to COVID-19 which stated, ”At this time. DHEC does not recommend closing large community events in our state.”
The organizers claim that PPDA board members illegally communicated with one another about their votes prior to an emergency meeting on Dec. 30 which postponed the event.
“They were improperly influenced by third-party social media communications criticizing the event,” lawyers stated in the suit.
In the suit, organizers said they entered into a contract with the development authority on Dec. 17 to rent the USS Yorktown on Dec. 31 for an event that permitted 1,000 people to attend.
According to the plaintiffs, on Dec. 29 their crews began to put tents and various provisions aboard the Yorktown for the event which had sold out.
Then on the morning of Dec. 30 officials with the PPDA contacted the organizers and requested that they make the final installment payment for the event which the organizers said they complied with. However, lawyers say on that afternoon the PPDA held an unnoticed board meeting where thereafter it was reported in the news that the board had postponed the event.
The plaintiffs say currently the development authority has retained the payment funds after cancelling the event.