A Florida golf course owned by Donald Trump has agreed to pay $5.45 million to settle claims by angry former members who say they were cheated out of reimbursements after resigning from the club.
Reuters reports that the Trump National Golf Club in Florida previously had a rule that allowed members who wanted to leave the club to continue playing golf while paying dues until their replacements were found. Their memberships deposits would be refunded after replacements filled their place. When Trump acquired the club, however, he sent members a letter that said "as the owner of the club" he no longer wanted them to use the course and told them "you’re out."
Under Trump's new rules, members who said they wanted to leave had to stop using the course while replacements were being found, or they had to convert their memberships to discounted nonrefundable deposits if they wanted to keep golfing. As U.S District Judge Kenneth Marra ruled, these new rules breached the club's contract with members.
65 former members said that the club refused to return their deposits after they resigned, and they were owed $5.77 million. To avoid a lengthy appeal process threatened by the Trump National Golf Club, the members agreed to a slightly lower amount of $5.45 million. Their lawyers explained that this means they will recoup around 71 percent of their deposits, once legal fees and expenses are deducted.
"In our view, the class prevailed," said Brad Edwards, a lawyer for the former club members. The settlement still has to be approved by Judge Marra, but this will likely be the end of the long ordeal.
The lawsuit is nothing new for Trump. USA Today's database shows that his businesses have been sued over 4,000 times over the years, which included a $25 million settlement in a case against Trump University.