Another day, another legal battle between Donald Trump and members at one of his 16 golf properties.
This issue isn’t a new one. According to the Palm Beach Post, the dispute stems from a lawsuit filed in May of 2013 stating that Trump had breached a contractual agreement when he voided a membership clause that would refund a portion of dues paid at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter.
Trump bought the property formerly known as the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa in 2012. The lawsuit claims that, ahead of multi-million dollar renovations, Trump canceled memberships without refunding deposits. Instead he invited members to accept a new agreement in which they’d forfeit the deposits in exchange for privileges at more than 12 other Trump properties in the U.S. and Scotland as well as a three-year due reduction.
Trump’s rational was that the club would be unable to put significant investment into improvements if it had to refund deposits.
The initial lawsuit involved only three members who were seeking refunded deposits worth between $35,000 and $210,000. The club members scored a major victory in May of this year when the lawsuit earned class-action status, growing the number of plaintiffs to more than 100. The original three plaintiffs claimed that Trump’s nonrefundable offer canceled their existing memberships and should have come with an immediate refund.
Trump’s son Eric, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, has said, “We are going to win in a landslide. The lawsuit is frivolous.” The Donald’s public strategy is unsurprisingly based more on touting the improvements he’s made to the course. Members aren’t disputing that significant upgrades have been made, but they’re unhappy with Trump’s execution and alleged deviousness.
“We look forward to having a trial to hold the Trump Organization accountable for its failure to refund deposits to plaintiffs and class members,” said Seth Lehrman, lawyer for the plaintiffs.