Trump Golf Club Appeals Class Action Ruling

The argument between The Trump National Golf Club Jupiter and a class of 65 former members continues as the golf club has asked the Eleventh Circuit Court to overturn a ruling by the lower court that requires the golf club to pay approximately $5.7 million in refunded deposits to the former members.

The argument appears to hinge on when the members actually resigned their golf club membership. Prior to Trump’s purchase of the golf club, members paid a deposit, which was to be refunded to them upon the resignation of their membership. But the golf club was having financial troubles and was unable to pay all the resigning members their deposits.

So the club formed a resignation wait list, in which members who wanted to resign could continue using the golf club’s facilities as long as they continued paying their dues. When they reached the top of the list and enough new members had joined (generally five new members for each member on the resignation waitlist), the resignation could be made complete and their deposit refunded to them.

When Trump bought the golf club at the end of 2012, he allegedly canceled all the memberships of those on the resignation waitlist, deeming them to be no longer members. He signed a letter stating he did not want them at the golf club and he did not want their dues, but he allegedly did so without refunding their deposits, as required by their membership contracts.

The members whose memberships had been improperly canceled filed a class action lawsuit against the golf course for breach of contract. U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra ruled in favor of the former members, saying changes in the golf club’s membership policies did not invalidate the membership agreements the members on the resignation waitlist had signed with the former owners of the golf club. Judge Marra, therefore, ordered the golf club to pay approximately $5.7 million to the former club members whose memberships were canceled to refund their deposits, plus interest.

The golf club appealed Judge Marra’s decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court, denying that it had breached it contracts with the members. Instead, the golf club insists it put members who wanted to resign on a waiting list and canceling their memberships when they reached the top of the list, in accordance with their membership contracts.

As for the memberships Trump canceled, the golf club argued that those members had already resigned. Instead, the golf club put the blame on the former members who stopped paying their dues. It admitted that it required members on the resignation wait list to continue paying dues to the golf club, but when the members stopped paying those dues, the golf club alleges they incorrectly cried breach of contract.

The class of former members, on the contrary, are arguing that the case is a straightforward one that deals with the issue of whether the golf club is in breach of contract with the members of the class. They maintain that Judge Marra ruled correctly in ordering the golf club to compensate the class members and they’re asking the appellate court to uphold that ruling.

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