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Call Kurtis: Weddings, refunds, and fire country

Call Kurtis: Weddings, refunds, and fire country
Call Kurtis: Weddings, refunds, and fire country 02:22

EL DORADO COUNTY — The Mosquito Wildfire forced an engaged couple to do the unthinkable: pull off a wedding somewhere else, with one day's notice.

But there was a problem. The original wedding venue wouldn't refund their whole deposit. It was time to call on Kurtis Ming to investigate.

When flames tore through El Dorado County in Sep. 2022, the Mosquito Fire forced the evacuation of Black Oak Mountain Vineyards in Cool, CA, a property currently listed on the market.

"Eighteen hours before our wedding, we got a call saying that the county and the venue canceled our wedding," said Bryce and Kyleigh Hansen, who had a caterer locked in and family and friends already flying in from out-of-state.

On extremely short notice, they found a scenic venue on the outskirts of Elk Grove happy to accommodate them, Le Rêve Estate.

"It was stressful," Bryce, a disabled veteran, told CBS13. "But it came together, which was awesome. Everyone enjoyed it and loved it."

But when the newlyweds asked the venue, also known as BOMV, to refund their $13,999, the venue pointed to the contract the couple signed, which stated in emergencies, including fires, smoke and all manner of natural disasters, a refund would only be granted "if event cannot be rescheduled."

Black Oak Mountan Vineyards said in an email to CBS13 that it was "willing and able to reschedule" at later dates, but the couples said they couldn't since guests were already on the way and all of the other vendors had been booked.

Consumer Attorney Stuart Talley reviewed the Hansen's contract for CBS13 and thinks the language is vague over who gets to decide if an event can be rescheduled.

"The venue could have been very clear in the contract," Talley said. "If there's any ambiguity in court, you're going to have to fight it out, potentially, and you don't want to have to do that."

In its email to CBS13, Black Oak Mountain Vineyards says "it is tough all around... it was scary for us and frantic for them," but adds, the venue thinks they have gone "abvoe and beyond fulfilling our obligations."

Black Oak Mountain Vineyards refunded the couple $3,600 of the $13,999 payment, and has extended the remainder in credit for an event the couple can use in the next two years.

The venue also wrote, "Going forward, Black Oak Mountain Vineyards has updated our wording here to be very clear." And recommends full event insurance, particularly for couples getting married in the summer and fall, with fire being a possibility.

But new language won't help Bryce, who's already married and says he needs the money to cover the other venue. His next steps will likely be through the arbitration process, laid out in the contract.  

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