President Donald Trump's golf club in Jupiter, Fla., has proposed a multi-million-dollar settlement payment to a group of 65 former members frozen out by Trump and his Trump Organization.
Trump National Golf Club has offered to pay $5.45 million to settle claims by former members that it wrongfully refused to refund their deposits after they wished to resign following Trump's 2012 purchase of the former Ritz Carlton-owned club.
When Trump acquired the club, he inherited a membership that joined the club under the premise that they would get their initiation fee -- ranging from $35,000 to $210,000 -- back when they resigned their membership and a new member had taken their place. While awaiting a replacement, resigning members, like these 65 were when Trump acquired the club, would be expected to pay dues and have access to club facilities. Trump, however, did not wish to uphold those membership agreements. He declared the resigning members would not have access to the club and would lose their initiation fees, too.
"As the owner of the club, I do not want them to utilize the club nor do I want their dues," he wrote in a letter to members. And then he charged this group of members dues anyhow.
Trump argued these members were not barred from Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter, but Eric Trump testified in the trial that some in-limbo members had been prohibited from using the club. Trump's lawyers argued during the trial that these members would have been unlikely to get their investment back from Ritz-Carlton as the club was losing substantial money under their ownership. That argument did not carry weight.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra will have to approve the settlement, whose payment represents almost 95 percent of the payment he ruled in February 2017 should be paid to the former members. The original $5.77 million ruling Marra made would represent $4.85 million of initiation fees plus $925,000 in interest.
If the settlement is approved, each of the plaintiffs will recoup approximately 71 percent of their original investment after legal fees and other costs.