<span class="articleLocation”>A federal judge in Florida on Wednesday directed
a golf club owned by U.S. President Donald Trump to pay $5.77
million to former members who claimed it wrongfully refused to
refund their deposits after Trump took over in 2012.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra in West Palm Beach said
Trump National Golf Club Jupiter must repay $4.849 million plus
$925,010 of interest to 65 former members for breach of
contract, following a non-jury trial last August.
Marra said the club had no right to keep the deposits after
locking out members who had declared their plans to resign prior
to Trump’s purchase in November 2012.
Before Trump took over, the club had permitted members who
wanted to resign to keep playing golf until their replacements
But Trump changed the rules, declaring in a letter that “as
the owner of the club” he did not want such members to use the
club, and telling them “you’re out.”
Marra, however, said 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.
The Trump Organization said in a statement that it disagreed
with the decision and will appeal.
“At the time Trump purchased the club, it was suffering
financially, making it unlikely that these members would ever
get back their deposits,” it added.
Brad Edwards, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in an
interview that “our clients are thrilled that they are getting
exactly what they deserve.”
He added: “I think President Trump is going to respect this
In a footnote, Marra noted that Trump was a “private
citizen” at all times relevant to the lawsuit, and that he would
refer to Trump as such in the decision.
“In doing so, the court means no disrespect to him or to the
esteemed position he now holds,” wrote Marra, an appointee of
former President George W. Bush.
The case is Hirsch et al v. Jupiter Golf Club LLC et al,
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, No. 13-80456.
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