President Donald Trump’s National Golf Club Jupiter has lost a lawsuit against former members who were demanding refunds. Trump purchased the golf club in November of 2012, but was sued for breach of contract by 65 former members. A report by Reuters states that U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, in West Palm Beach, has revealed his findings in the case.
The federal judge states that Trump’s golf club must pay a sum of $5.77 million to the former members. Those members had sued to recover deposits made to the golf club before Trump took over as the owner in 2012. The Trump National Golf Club Jupiter must now repay $4.849 million in deposits and $925,010 in interest to 65 former members. Citing breach of contract, the federal judge ruled in favor of the members following a non-jury trial that took place last August.
The Trump National Golf Club Jupiter served as host to now-president Donald Trump during the Republican presidential primaries this past winter. The images below are from a press conference that Trump gave to supporters and members of the media on March 8, 2016.
At the heart of the lawsuit was a policy that had been in place at the golf club, but which was changed when Trump assumed ownership. The former practice was to permit members who planned to resign from the club to keep playing golf there until their replacements could be found. These were paying members who had already submitted deposits and expected to continue playing at the club until their memberships officially came to an end.
When Trump took over the club, the rules were changed so that members planning to resign were no longer permitted to continue playing golf. In a letter that Trump gave to those particular members, he stated that “you’re out.” At this point, the judgment stated that a refund of all deposits should have been made to the members who found themselves locked out of the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter. Instead, they lost the rights of their memberships, despite having already paid for them.
In his decision that favored the plaintiffs, Judge Marra stated that the club should have refunded the deposits to all members affected by the new policy. What follows is a segment of the findings that he released.
“By categorically denying class members all rights to club access because they remained on the resignation waiting list as of December 31, 2012, defendant revoked or canceled their memberships.”
A report by the Associated Press states that the cancellation of those memberships is something that Trump’s lawyers are planning to argue about in an appeal of these findings. A statement from the Trump Organization was also given and reported by the AP.
“We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision. At the time Trump purchased the Club, it was suffering financially, making it unlikely that these members would ever get back their deposits.”
The new report also states that when he purchased the golf club for $5 million in 2012, that Trump agreed to be “on the hook” for potentially $41 million in refundable membership deposits. The contracts that members signed also stated that if the club was ever sold, that the new owner would still be responsible for any refundable deposits. This is something that was referenced by the judge on the case, who sided with the 65 members.
The crux of this lawsuit is that members who were resigning from the club were still paying dues to be members of the club, even though they were in the process of getting replaced on the membership lists. Included in those dues were food and beverage fees, allowing outgoing members to continue enjoying the club on their way out. Though Judge Marra has ruled against the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, an appeals court will likely hear the case before any payments are made.
[Featured Image by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]