Grieving mother to pay huge penalty to JW Marriott Indianapolis over travel boycott

Paying nearly $80,000 of her own money for rooms attrition as part of a bereavement event agreement, JW Marriott Indianapolis refuses to refund money due to cancellations resulting from the travel boycott brought on by Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
INDIANAPOLIS - April 6, 2015 - PRLog -- Grief advocate Lynda Cheldelin Fell set out to bring comfort, healing and hope to people nationwide when she began planning the National Grief & Hope Convention 2015, scheduled at the JW Marriott Indianapolis later this month.

Choosing Indianapolis because of its designation as the top convention city in the nation, Cheldelin Fell signed a contract with the hotel last June, made a down payment, and got to work organizing nationally known speakers who are slated to speak at the convention next week.

But during a conference call in February, the hotel demanded Cheldelin Fell pay nearly $80,000 up front for rooms attrition.  If Cheldelin Fell was unable to come up with the funds, the hotel threatened to cancel the entire contract.

“Even though I already paid a deposit to use the Grand Ballrooms, they said I faced abandonment of contract if I didn’t pay this new amount.  I was shocked, but I had to pay if I wanted to move forward.”

According to the rooms attrition terms, the hotel has to sell its entire inventory before it refunds her nearly $80,000.  "But the Indiana travel boycott has significantly damaged that possibility," states Cheldelin Fell.

Based upon a cancellation clause in her contract that states either party can terminate without liability in the event of circumstance beyond their control, including that brought about by government regulations, Cheldelin Fell requested a refund on the rooms attrition and, instead, offered to pay the full amount for renting the Grand Ballroom so the convention can take place as planned.

“I offered to pay $22,000 for rental of the Grand Ballroom as long as they didn't hold us responsible for empty hotel rooms resulting from the boycott," states Cheldelin Fell.  “It just isn't right to make a bereavement convention responsible for everyone else's cancellations."

Although the new law has since been reworded in response to the nationwide protest, Cheldelin Fell says the damage from the travel boycott has already been done.

Stating that the clause doesn’t apply to the boycott, the hotel has refused her request and is keeping her nearly $80,000.

Lynda Cheldelin Fell

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