Unfortunately a deposit is a liquidated damage clause, and those are generally enforceable. Unfortunately the legislature does not often take into account exceptional circumstances and that can result in unjust results when the laws are uniformly applied.
Per Palmieri v. Partridge a liquidated damage clause is generally enforceable so long as it is not deemed to be a penalty. Palmieri cites " Traditionally, a forfeiture that reflects nine percent, see Laughlin v. Baltalden, Inc., 191 Pa.Super. 611, 159 A.2d 26 (1960), or ten percent, see Kraft v. Michael, 166 Pa.Super. 57, 70 A.2d 424 (1950), of the purchase price is not tantamount to a penalty."
Unfortunately I could not locate any case law that made an exception due to circumstances beyond one's control. Even the airlines have severely restricted or terminated the bereavement fares in recent years.
Generally to invalidate a liquidated damage provision it would be necessary to show that it constituted a penalty - please see:
2718. Liquidation or limitation of damages; deposits.
(a) Liquidated damages in agreement.--Damages for breach by either party may be liquidated in the agreement but only at an amount which is reasonable in the light of the anticipated or actual harm caused by the breach, the difficulties of proof of loss, and the inconvenience or nonfeasibility of otherwise obtaining an adequate remedy. A term fixing unreasonably large liquidated damages is void as a penalty.
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