It’s a case that began in 2012 when Trump bought the struggling golf club from Marriott Vacations Worldwide. He paid just $5 million, a bargain price. But as part of the deal, he had to assume some $50 million in debt, money owed to members who put down refundable deposits and now wanted out of the club.
In a letter and a meeting with club members, the company told those who wanted out, they would have to continue to pay annual dues but couldn’t use the club. Plus, they wouldn’t receive their refunds until new members were found to replace them, a process that might take years.
Disgruntled members said Trump was unfairly changing the rules of their membership contracts and they filed a class action lawsuit. Their lawyer, Brad Edwards, says Trump essentially revoked their memberships while keeping their dues and deposits. Edwards says, “The most important characteristic of a membership is access to the club. Well, there’s no doubt that he took away access to the club and, ergo, he took away membership.”
In a ruling Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra agreed with the plaintiffs. He ordered the Jupiter Club to refund 65 members their deposits plus interest, for a total of nearly $6 million. Although Trump wasn’t personally named in the suit, his videotaped deposition was played in court. His son Eric testified at the trial.