A Hardin County wedding venue owner is facing legal action from Attorney General Andy Beshear for allegedly conning at least seven couples weeks before their weddings by canceling the events or by not providing contracted services.
Eastview-based Gabriella Farm LLC, located at 13943 Leitchfield Road and its sole owner Nicolle Thompson, are being sued in Hardin Circuit Court by Beshear’s office for deceptive business practices under Kentucky’s Consumer Protection Act.
The lawsuit and lien were filed today by Beshear’s Office of Consumer Protection.
Beshear said Thompson owes at least seven couples from Bullitt, Hardin, Jefferson and Meade counties nearly $30,000 after taking vendor payments from them, and either canceled their wedding or provided subpar services throughout the wedding planning process or during the ceremony and reception.
Beshear is seeking restitution for the couples.
“Getting married should be a special day in a couple’s life and it should never be ruined by a predatory business owner,” Beshear said. “Our hope is to secure refunds for impacted brides and grooms and to prevent this business owner from conning other couples.”
A review of the actions by Gabriella Farm and Thompson began after Beshear’s office received numerous consumer complaints.
According to the lawsuit filed today, Beshear’s office alleges that on Sept. 6 and 7, 2018, Thompson or someone working for her called at least three couples with weddings scheduled in September and October and canceled their weddings, claiming that Gabriella Farm had been sold.
According to the complaint, the caller threatened the couples with legal action for defamation if they posted negative reviews on social media. As of that date, Gabriella Farm had not been sold, and was not under contract to be sold.
A Jefferson County groom, whose affidavit appears in the lawsuit, was forced to end his contract with Thompson less than a month before his wedding.
According to the groom’s affidavit, a month before the wedding, the groom read a bad online review about the Hardin County wedding venue that caused him to contact his vendors who were supposed to be booked by Thompson. He discovered only one vendor, a videographer, had received a deposit. The cake designer, photographer, DJ and bartender all said they were unaware of his wedding.
While the couple did marry, they have not received a refund for the more than $11,000 they paid Thompson for the wedding and vendors.
According to the lawsuit, the sudden cancellation of these all-inclusive weddings forced the majority of the couples to either quickly come up with thousands of dollars more to secure a new venue and vendors, or to postpone their wedding because all of their available funds had been paid to Thompson.
Beshear’s office is also seeking partial or full refunds for three couples who had their weddings at Gabriella Farm, but did not receive contracted services.
A Bullitt County bride, whose affidavit appears in the lawsuit, says she was unable to use the barn at Gabriella Farm at her rehearsal or on the day of her wedding because she was told the floor of the barn was under construction.
The owner “warned me not to look inside the barn because she was working on a ‘surprise’ for me; she was having the floor redone inside,” according to the bride’s affidavit.
The bride alleges in her affidavit that she was told “minutes” before her wedding that the ceremony would have to be outside and not in the barn because the floor was not complete.
Some of the couples received notice via text message from Thompson of a wire transfer scheduled to refund their money, but to date none of these couples has received any money, according to Beshear.
Beshear is asking others who have paid Thompson or Gabriella Farm for wedding planning or other wedding services that were not provided to contact the AG’s Office of Consumer Protection at 502-696-5389.
Beshear’s Office of Consumer Protection continues to work to protect Kentuckians by expanding services through ongoing civil actions and outreach programs to raise awareness of unscrupulous businesses and business owners.