City of Montreal Ordered to Pay $27,000 for Disastrous Bar Mitzvah Reception

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Peter Neumann was awarded "moral and legal damages" on Monday by a court in Quebec, based on Neumann’s allegations that a city employee ruined his grandson’s bar mitzvah in 2003 and the city government then failed to take his complaints seriously.  Neumann described the event, held at the Pierrefonds Cultural Center with 350 invited guests, as "the bar mitzvah from hell," and it is hard to argue with that.

Most of the damage was done by the janitor who seems to have been the only staff member present during the event, and who seems to have been drunk throughout (hereinafter "Drunken Janitor"):

  • The first sign of difficulty came before the party had even started, when Drunken Janitor stole all the ice Neumann had bought for the party and tried to sell it back to him.
  • A guest got stuck in the elevator.  Drunken Janitor "was of no help."
  • He also refused to fill the toilet paper dispensers.  Neumann had to buy his own.
  • Another guest got stuck in the elevator.  Again, Drunken Janitor was of no help.
  • Next, the pianist had a heart attack.  According to the report, "the custodian was nowhere to be found," which is odd because it implies that had he been found, the man who had refused to fill the toilet paper dispensers would have been of some help with the medical emergency.
  • At 10:30, Drunken Janitor reemerged and ordered the band to stop playing, although the room had been rented until 2 a.m.
  • At midnight, he emerged again and threatened to lock everyone out of the building.

Needless to say, Neumann subsequently complained to the city, but was told that he "didn’t have a case."  He later learned that someone in the city’s legal department had advised city officials that Neumann didn’t have a case because his grandson "wasn’t even Jewish."  The report did not explain why the unidentified legal genius thought the grandson’s status would be relevant to the claim for damages — was the city going to counterclaim for a fraudulent bar mitzvah?  Plus, he is Jewish.

The city refused to compensate Neumann, who eventually sued.  Two months ago (four years after the event and a month before trial), the city apologized.  Too little, too late.  This week, Judge Henri Richard awarded Neumann $22,000 plus interest, mostly for causing the family "unnecessary distress" with the allegation about the bar mitzvah being a fraud.  Neumann said he would donate the money to charity.

Meanwhile, Drunken Janitor was fired.  He now works as a groundskeeper for an elementary school Williesomewhere in the United States.

Link: Montreal Gazette