President Donald Trump’s development company on Wednesday was ordered to pay former members of its Jupiter, Fla., golf club $5.77 million.
According to a report in the Palm Beach Post, some members had filed suit against Trump National Golf Club Jupiter. After Trump bought the club from The Ritz Carlton for $5 million in 2012, these members had declared their intention to resign. Trump, they claimed, refused to refund their deposits or allow them to continue using the club facilities, while continuing to charge them membership fees.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled in favor of the members, awarding them $4.8 million plus $925,000 in interest.
In a statement, the Trump Organization vowed to appeal.
Under Ritz Carlton ownership, members who wanted to resign were allowed to keep playing golf until replacement members were found. But Trump sent a letter to the affected members, saying he did not want them using club facilities and telling them, "you're out."
Marra ruled that this deprived the plaintiffs of their "continuing right" to use the club until new members joined.
"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," and should have refunded their deposits, he said.
According to the Post, the members who wanted out are still billed $8,000 to $20,000 a year for dues and must pay an $1,800 annual fee for food and beverages. The Post also said that most have to wait until five new members join before their deposit will be refunded.
In the statement issued by the Trump Organization, a spokesperson wrote: “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision. The plaintiffs were all members under Ritz Carlton who resigned before Trump purchased the Club. At the time Trump purchased the Club, it was suffering financially, making it unlikely that these members would ever get back their deposits. At trial, we presented overwhelming evidence that the plaintiffs’ memberships were never recalled and that the plaintiffs had waived this argument during the course of the litigation.”