By Lauren Victory

CHICAGO (CBS) — 2020; the year of canceled weddings, family reunions, and graduation parties. After the disappointment comes the frustration.

The Morning Insiders have heard from many people who can’t get their money back for events that never happened. CBS 2’s Lauren Victory dives into one family’s fight over legal fine print that’s about to become even more common.

Mischief in the making with just four of the Hampton siblings. Imagine 15 of them together, and their kids.

“We’re a big family. We’re very, very close,” said Jeanette Oden.

A close bunch that hosted a huge family reunion in 2017, and this past August planned on another: a 50th wedding anniversary for Jeanette and Turner Oden.

“We would’ve wound up with about 150 people,” said Jeanette, the would-be guest of honor.

But the celebration at Nikos Banquets in Bridgeview never happened, because of Illinois’ COVID-19 gathering rules.

The sisters had already paid $3,200 in full, and verbally agreed to reschedule a year later at the venue. Then they reconsidered.

“People who would be attending this event are the same age bracket; in their mid 70s up to mid 80s,” Jeanette said.

Refund requests sent to Nikos got rejections in return; the manager specifically pointing to the second paragraph in the event contract. It contains an “acts of God” provision, giving the venue the right to cancel or reschedule without penalty.

“To qualify as an act of God, it has to be an unforeseeable event,” said CBS 2 Legal Analyst Irv Miller.

Miller said the pandemic used to be just that.

“Right now, if you have a contract, you may not be able to take advantage of this pandemic, because it’s foreseen. You know about,” he said.

Generally speaking, that makes things legally murky.

Get ready for future contracts to firm up that fine print.

“You want to make it specific if there’s a shutdown for any federal, state, or local regulation that shuts down the business, so everything is covered. We didn’t think about this stuff before,” Miller said.

“It’s really just the principle. It’s not so much the money,” Jeanette said.

As for the party, the happy couple was honored with a family drive-by, and after CBS 2 got involved, the sisters had something else to celebrate.

In the spirit of the holiday season, and because the banquet hall understands their event would have a lot of senior citizens involved, Nikos said they would draft up the paperwork and give the sisters a full refund.

The attorney for Nikos Banquets also said the owners don’t plan on changing any contractual language, and still believe they are legally sound. Management said they’re willing to work with customers, and that’s why they made this one-time exception.

Lauren Victory