The Real Deal Miami

Trump ordered to pay former Jupiter golf club members in $6M judgment

US judge ordered Trump company to pay $4.84M plus $925,000 in interest to 65 plaintiffs
By Katherine Kallergis | February 01, 2017 04:30PM

Greens at the Trump National Golf Club. Inset: Donald Trump (Credit: Gage Skidmore)

A U.S. District judge ruled in favor of former members of the Trump National Golf Club Jupiter on Wednesday, ordering President Donald Trump’s development company to pay a $5.74 million judgment. 

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra awarded the 65 plaintiffs $4.84 million plus $925,000 in interest, court records show. Brad Edwards of Farmer Jaffe Weissing, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said class action suits typically don’t go to trial. Both parties went to mediation last year in August, but “Trump wasn’t interested in settling this case at all,” Edwards told The Real Deal.

The class action was filed in 2013, about a year after Trump bought the then-Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa for $5 million. The property, off of Donald Ross Road at 115 Eagle Tree Terrace, had been losing as much as $4.1 million per year. And the sale came with the understanding that Trump was assuming liability for $41 million in refundable deposits that former members were waiting to receive.

In the event that the property was sold and “the buyer assumes liability for the repayment of the membership deposit, the[y]…shall look solely to the new owner for repayment of the membership deposit and the seller of the Club Facilities shall be released from all liability for the repayment thereof,” according to the suit.

The refundable memberships ranged from $35,000 to $210,000. According to the suit, members who resign before 30 years enter a waiting list to get their deposits back, with payouts contingent on a new member taking the old one’s place.

Resigned members, who were previously allowed to use club facilities while waiting for their deposits, were barred from entrance. At the time, Trump wrote in a letter, “As the owner of the club, I do not want them to utilize the club nor do I want their dues. In other words…if you choose to remain on the resignation list, you’re out.”

Those members were still responsible for paying dues until they received their deposits – which they claimed could take years – but that Eric Trump said last year would be quicker due to a $25 million renovation of the property.

Edwards said he was “thrilled and vindicated” by Wednesday’s judgment. “It means they’re going to get exactly what they bargained for and exactly what they received and what they are entitled to.”