While browsing around the internet recently, I came across this story about a woman who is suing a country club for negligence because a waiter spilled wine on her $30,000 purse. The country club responded by filing a cross-claim against the waiter, its own employee.
This incident happened when Maryana Beyder and her husband were dining at the Alpine Country Club in New Jersey last year. It is unclear whether the waiter spilled the wine intentionally or not. “Whoever the waiter was proceeded to pour red wine and didn’t stop,” said Beyder’s lawyer. “Poured it all over her. Poured it all over her husband. And poured it all over a very expensive Hermes bag.” The lawyer expressed disappointment with the country club’s suit against the waiter, saying “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.”
In my opinion, the waiter is the person who should have to pay for the damage to the purse. After all, the waiter is the person who caused the damage.
The country club shouldn’t have to pay because spilling wine is not something they told the waiter to do. Yes, employers should be held accountable for any actions that they direct their employees to take. But spilling is not something that a country club trains its employees to do as part of their duties. Regardless of whether it happened accidentally or on purpose, that is something that the waiter did himself.
And Ms. Beyder, the victim in this situation, absolutely should not need to absorb the destruction of her $30,000 purse with no compensation. Every person has the right to live their life without their property being destroyed. No one has the right to destroy another person’s property. If you destroy another person’s property, either accidentally or deliberately, you are violating their rights, and you are obligated to compensate them.
According to the story, Beyder’s lawyer added, “She didn’t wear [the purse] apple picking. She wore it to a very expensive country club where she is a member.”
But even if she did take the pricy purse apple picking instead of to a fancy country club, she still would have a right to be upset, and to be compensated, if someone damaged it. No matter the location, ruining another person’s property is always wrong.
Unfortunately, there is an attitude among many people that rich people are automatically in the wrong in every dispute merely by virtue of being rich. For example, one commenter on the online article wrote, “Maybe it’s time to find a charity to donate to if you have that much money to throw around. Just another reason to reduce the wage gap.” Another commenter wrote that Ms. Beyder “sounds like an absolute delight. I’m sure it was a complete accident that an entire bottle of red wine was poured all over her, her husband, and her precious Hermes bag. How tragic.”
These comments are completely off-base.
Yes, Ms. Beyder must be financially well-off… but why is this commenter implying that as a result of this, she doesn’t have a right to have her property respected? No one is obligated to donate money to charity. People have a right to spend their money on expensive purses if that is what they enjoy spending money on – it’s their money. And what does the wage gap have to do with anything?
The second comment is even worse. Nothing in the article suggests that Ms. Beyder did anything wrong, so why is this commenter sarcastically calling her “an absolute delight”? Destroying property is a serious wrong that must be rectified, so why is this commenter dismissing the situation by sarcastically calling it “tragic”? Finally, this comment is confusing because the commenter seems to be implying that the waiter spilled the wine on purpose, which is completely inconsistent with the rest of the comment. If the waiter deliberately destroyed Ms. Beyder’s property, doesn’t that make his actions even more wrong and her even less deserving of being insulted?
In conclusion, the morally right answer to this situation is simple: the person who destroyed the property is the person who should pay for it. The economic status of the people involved is completely irrelevant. Contrary to the opinions of bigoted online commenters, being wealthy does not obligate someone to put up with being insulted or having his/her belongings ruined.