A Collier judge indicated Friday she was leaning toward granting La Playa Beach & Golf Resort a temporary injunction to prevent a neighbor from blasting loud music during weddings and other events.
Circuit Judge Lauren Brodie said she’d rule within two weeks, but gave the attorney for neighbor Lloyd Bowein until Friday to submit court rulings that support his argument that he also should be able to restrain La Playa from disrupting his peace and quiet on Gulf Shore Drive.
“I believe most of the elements have been met,” Brodie said of four factors, including whether La Playa would suffer irreparable harm if she didn’t grant an order before trial and whether it would likely win its lawsuit.
Temporary restraining orders are difficult to obtain, except in cases of violence.
The Daily News published a story about the case in June after La Playa sued Bowein on May 29. The resort alleges he played loud, offensive rap music to disrupt weddings and other events, causing brides to burst into tears and the hotel to lose at least $200,000 in business.
The lawsuit listed eight events from 2011 to May 23, saying restraining orders, cease-and-desist letters, meetings and free Champagne didn’t stop Bowein, a lawyer and owner of Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant.
Bowein countersued in July, alleging La Playa’s “annoying, offensive music” and amplified pep rallies meant he couldn’t enjoy his Vanderbilt Beach home. La Playa no longer uses amplifiers.
“I’m not doing anything to weddings,” Bowein said, noting that he only turned up his music to hear it over La Playa’s. “I’m playing music in my backyard for my personal enjoyment.”
After the judge’s remarks, Bowein offered La Playa a compromise: Move weddings 150 feet away from the property line and he’d stop. La Playa’s attorney said no.
During the nearly three hour hearing, employees testified the Daily News article caused a loss of local wedding and event business, but when a similar article was published in the New York Daily News, people called from New York, where much of La Playa’s business comes from. Many wanted assurances it wouldn’t happen to them, but others said they wouldn’t book there.
Resort employees described angry, crying brides, restraining guests from confronting Bowein, paying off-duty deputies $400 hourly for security and patrol boats and screaming fathers who demanded refunds after ruined weddings.
“I said, ‘What you did to that bride was despicable,’ ” vice president and general manager Ron Vuy testified, referring to an August 2011 wedding, when Bowein blasted rap music. Vuy added that Bowein said he’d stop in return for a hotel membership. “I said, ‘That’s not going to happen.’ ”
Employees testified Bowein wore loud, obnoxious clothes and positioned himself in a chair behind the wedding arch. The hotel’s lawyer showed photos. When employees used a row of beach umbrellas to block him, they said he moved into view.
Bowein’s former business partner, Randy Essig, who operated Randy’s Fishmarket, testified Bowein often bragged about ruining weddings.
“I’ll get a membership out of it before I’m done,” Essig said Bowein told restaurant employees, adding that Bowein wanted La Playa to pay $10 million to buy his $3.64 million beachfront home.
Bowein denied purposely playing rap music or retaliating by increasing the volume, saying he was just exercising his property rights.
“I feel I’m doing the same thing on my property as they’re doing on their property,” he said. “They’re retaliating against me.”