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No Deal! Court Cancels Accidental Bargain Price for 20 Carat Diamond

A miscommunication led to a cruise ship passenger scoring a $4 million diamond at a fraction of its intended price

A cruise line was within its rights to nix a deal with a passenger to whom it inadvertently sold a 20 ct. diamond worth millions for $235,000, according to an April 7 ruling from Miami-Dade County trial court.

The case stemmed from an unexpectedly fateful February 2013 trip aboard Starboard Cruise Services taken by antiques and jewelry dealer Thomas DePrince.

DePrince saw a 20.73 ct. E VVS2 emerald-cut diamond at an onboard jewelry store and asked about its price. The store manager had never sold a diamond of that size before and emailed the company’s corporate office. The office then contacted its supplier, who responded the price was $235,000. That turned out to be the per-carat price, but the salesperson didn’t know that. After DePrince consulted with his life partner, a gemologist, he scooped up the diamond for $235,000. It was meant to sell for $4.85 million.

Starboard discovered the mistake five days later and canceled the sale, offering DePrince discounts on further cruises. But DePrince wanted his deal and filed suit in Miami-Dade County court, claiming breach of contract.

In the first round, a Miami-Dade County circuit judge granted the cruise line’s motion for summary judgment, arguing that the company had made a unilateral mistake, and DePrince would not suffer any damages if the deal was canceled.  But Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling, calling it an open question whether Starboard acted negligently.

At trial, the jury found that Starboard had committed a “unilateral mistake” and therefore did not have to go through with the deal.

“We are very pleased with the jury’s verdict, which found that Starboard Cruise Services should be excused from the agreement to sell the diamond at a price that was never intended,” says the cruise line’s attorney Eric Isicoff.

But DePrince’s attorney, Mario Ruiz, indicates the battle is not over.

“The Florida Appeals Court one year ago corrected significant errors committed by the trial court,” he says. “That court was very clear as to how the case should be handled. It is clear that, once again, Mr. DePrince will have to request the assistance of the Appeals Court to correct z fundamental error committed by the trial court. We are confident that in the end, Starboard will be held responsible for their own contract—a deal is a deal.”


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