Trump – Ritz Carlton Class Action Update
Club Members Focus Claims against Trump
Class counsel, Seth Lehrman, Brad Edwards and co-counsel, have focused the membership deposit lawsuit against the Trump organization’s Jupiter Golf Club, LLC. This lawsuit is brought on behalf of a class of more than 100 club members who are seeking a refund of millions of dollars of deposits paid to purchase memberships to former Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa — Jupiter.
Photo: Gage Skidmore – Wikimedia Commons
Plaintiffs Claim Trump Organization
Owes Millions in Deposits
Plaintiffs, Norman Hirsch, Matthew Dwyer, and Ralph Willard, claim that they and other club members paid refundable deposits to the former club owner, Ritz-Carlton entity RBF, LLC, when they joined the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter. The membership agreement and membership plan requires the club owner to refund deposits to club members within thirty days of the termination of the member’s membership category or the occurrence of other specified events. Plaintiffs claim that when the Trump organization purchased the club in December 2012, it triggered a 30 day refund obligation by wiping out Plaintiffs’ membership categories. Trump denies that it terminated any membership categories and denies that it is otherwise triggered the 30 day refund obligations.
The Court has preliminarily approved Plaintiffs’ proposal to drop the former owner, Ritz-Carlton entity RBF, LLC, from the lawsuit, in order to focus the lawsuit against the Trump organization. Plaintiffs look forward holding the Trump organization accountable at trial for their conduct.
The Trump organization has repeatedly claimed that the membership deposit lawsuit has no merit. Yet, so far, Plaintiffs have won every round of the litigation, defeating Trump’s motion to dismiss and winning class certification, allowing plaintiffs to advance the case on behalf of a class of more than one hundred club members.
The Trump National Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter lawsuit continues to generate significant press. Here is a recent Daily Business Review article about the case. DBR Article
Plaintiffs hope to proceed to trial against the Trump organization in the Spring of 2016.
Please contact class counsel Seth Lehrman for more information about this lawsuit at [email protected] or (954) 524-2820.
Court Denies Trump’s Request to Appeal
Seth Lehrman, Brad Edwards and co-counsel are class counsel in a lawsuit brought by three members of the former Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and Spa – Jupiter. The club members seek a refund, for themselves and other club members, of refundable deposits which they paid to the owner of the Ritz-Carlton club. Donald Trump’s organization purchased the Ritz-Carlton club in December 2012 and rebranded it as Trump National Golf Club and Spa – Jupiter.
The Court had certified the case as a class action lawsuit, permitting the three named plaintiffs to continue to seek relief for themselves and members of the class. However, both the Trump organization and the former owner of the Ritz-Carlton requested permission to appeal this order. On July 17, the appellate court denied Trump’s request to appeal. The Court found that Trump’s request to appeal was untimely. A copy of that order is available here. The appellate court has not yet ruled on Ritz’s appeal.
Court Approves Notice to be Sent to Class Members
On June 29, 2015, the Court approved a class action notice form to be sent to all class members. The notice will be sent by first class U.S. mail to all class members in late July. The purpose of the notice is to inform class members about the pending lawsuit. The approved notice provides information about the nature of the claims, the status of the lawsuit and the right of class members to participate in the lawsuit or to exclude themselves from the case.
Defendants Seek Permission to Appeal Class Certification Order
Defendants RBF, LLC (the former club owner) and Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (owner of Trump National Golf Club Jupiter) both petitioned the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals under Rule 23(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, seeking permission to appeal the trial court’s certification of the lawsuit as a class action. Lehrman and co-counsel, filed a brief opposing Defendant’s petition and demonstrating that the class certification order is correct.
Court Grants Class Certification in Trump National Refund Deposit Lawsuit
Today a federal court in West Palm Beach, Florida certified a lawsuit as a class action against the present owner of the Trump National Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter and the former owner of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter. The ruling permits plaintiffs, three club members, to pursue a class action lawsuit to recover millions of dollars of refundable deposits which they claim must be paid by the present owner of the Trump National Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter and the former owner of The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter. In December, 2012, the club facilities of the former Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa – Jupiter were sold to Jupiter Golf Club, LLC, an entity owned by the Trump Organization.
The Court found that Plaintiffs Norman Hirsch, Matthew Dwyer, and Ralph Willard are adequate representatives of the class. Likewise, the Court appointed attorneys Seth Lehrman, Steven Jaffe and Mark Fistos as class counsel.
On August 8, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a class action complaint alleging that they signed agreements to be members of the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter, owned byRitz-Carlton. Plaintiffs The club facilities were later sold by Ritz-Carlton to Trump. Plaintiffs claim that Trump and Ritz-Carlton have failed to honor the agreed-upon terms and conditions of the Club membership categories; Class Members’ rights to refunds; and their rights upon sale of the Club. Plaintiffs further claim that each Defendant has systematically refused to provide Plaintiffs and Class Members millions of dollars in refunds due them under the long-standing terms of their memberships both Defendants are and were bound to.
The Court has ordered that the lawsuit proceed as a class action on behalf of the following class: “All persons who purchased a Full Golf, Fractional Golf or Social and Spa membership from RBF to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, paid a Membership Deposit, have not received a full refund of their Membership Deposit, and have not executed the Trump Legacy Addendum.”
Class members include individuals who purchased full golf, fractional golf or social and spa membership from RBF to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, who paid a Membership Deposit, who have not received a full refund of their Membership Deposit, and who have not executed the Trump Legacy Addendum.
The Order certifying the class is available here.
Plaintiffs File Motion for Class Certification in Refund Deposit Lawsuit
Seth Lehrman, together with co-counsel and Plaintiffs Norman Hirsch, Matthew Dwyer and Ralph Willard have been pursuing a lawsuit against RBF, LLC, (“Ritz”), the former owner of the the Ritz Carlton Golf Club and Spa – Jupiter, and Jupiter Golf Club, LLC. In December, 2012, Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (“Trump”) purchased the club from Ritz and allegedly terminated membership categories and the applicable membership plan. Defendants sought to dismiss the lawsuit. However, in May, 2014, the Court denied Defendants’ motions to dismiss, permitting Plaintiffs an opportunity to obtain discovery from Defendants. Following several months of active discovery, Plaintiffs have sought class action status for the deposit refund lawsuit. Club members claim that neither Defendant has honored the agreed-upon terms and conditions of the Club membership categories; Class Members’ rights to refunds; and their rights upon sale of the Club. Plaintiffs further claim that each Defendant has systematically refused to provide Plaintiffs and Class Members the refunds due them under the long-standing terms of their memberships both Defendants are and were bound to. Accordingly, Plaintiffs seek to maintain this case as a class action so that they may recover, for themselves and members of the proposed class, the refundable deposits paid to Ritz.
On January 20, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a motion asking the Court to certify the case as a class action. Plaintiffs offered evidence and written testimony supporting the motion and their contention that the action satisfies the requirements for class action cases under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiffs have offered evidence that the proposed class is comprised of one hundred fifty individuals who paid refundable deposits to Ritz, did not sign Trump’s Legacy Addendum, and have not received a refund of any deposit monies. Defendants are expected to file written responses opposing the motion within the next few weeks. The Court is expected to decide the motion for class certification following the parties submission of written briefs. Discovery will continue in the case while the class certification motion is pending.
The class certification motion is available here.
Edwards Pottinger is comprised of highly experienced class action attorneys who have successfully pursued class action cases and other complex civil cases involving contract disputes, insurance practices and financial institutions. Please click below if you would like more information about this lawsuit.
May 20, 2014 Status
Deposit Refund Lawsuit Continues as Court Denies Motions to Dismiss
Parties Will Start Discovery
On May 20, 2014, the Court entered an Order denying the motions to dismiss filed by Defendants Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (JGC) and RBF, LLC (RBF). JGC, which does business as Trump National Golf Club Jupiter, acquired the golf club facilities from RBF, which was known as The Ritz Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter (Ritz). In August, 2013, plaintiffs had filed a class action complaint against the defendants seeking a return of refundable membership deposits that they had paid and which other club members had paid to RBF/Ritz. Defendants had asked the Court to dismiss the class action complaint. The Court refused to dismiss the case. The parties will now proceed with discovery.
The Order denying the motions to dismiss is available here.
Please click below if you would like more information about this lawsuit or to obtain a copy of the complaint.
February 25, 2014 Status
Plaintiffs have requested that both defendants RBF and Jupiter Golf Club produce documents relevant to the membership deposit claims which are the subject of the lawsuit. In addition, Plaintiffs have served interrogatories on both defendants to obtain additional information that can be used to prosecute the lawsuit on behalf of the three named plaintiffs and a class of other club members whom plaintiffs allege are entitled to receive refunds of their membership deposits. Click here for Plaintiffs’ document requests or interrogatories.
Both defendants have asked the court to stay (stop) discovery while the motions to dismiss are pending. Plaintiffs have not agreed to stay discovery as they are prepared to pursue these claims without delay. We will update this blog when the Court rules on the motion to stay discovery.
Plaintiffs will continue to diligently pursue this litigation with the hopes that meaningful relief maybe obtained for themselves and other club members who seek a refund of their membership deposits.
Briefing Closed on Motions to Dismiss
Defendants’ motions to dismiss have been fully briefed since October 29, 2013. The parties are now awaiting the Court’s ruling on these motions. Any ruling on these motions will be publicly available and posted to our firm’s blog.
Motions to Dismiss
On September 9, 2013, Defendants filed motions to dismiss the complaint arguing that the legal claims set forth in the complaint are not properly or adequately stated. On October 7, Plaintiffs filed a brief opposing the motions to dismiss. Defendants are expected to file their final briefs related to the motions to dismiss by the end of October. Thereafter, the Court will rule on the motions to dismiss.
On August 8, 2013, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint in the putative class action lawsuit against Jupiter Golf Club, LLC and RBF, LLC. The litigation was brought by three members of the Trump National Golf Club – Jupiter on behalf of themselves and other club members who purchased memberships with refundable deposits from the former owner of the club which operated the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and Spa – Jupiter. Plaintiffs claim that the present and former club owners have failed to refund membership deposits which they are legally required to do. Defendants have filed motions to dismiss the first amended complaint. Plaintiffs’ response to the motion to dismiss will be filed soon.
On May 3, 2013, three club members filed a class action complaint against the owner and former owner of Trump National Golf Club Jupiter. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Palm Beach County, Florida, seeks to be certified as a class action in order to
btain relief for all club members who paid a refundable membership deposit who have been denied a refund.
The lawsuit has been assigned to the Hon. Kenneth A. Marra, a U.S. District Court judge who sits in the Southern District of Florida, Palm Beach Division.
The lawsuit is in the early stages. The club was previously owned by RBF, LLC which operated the club as The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter. Trump’s Jupiter Golf Club, LLC (“Trump”) purchased the club facilities in December, 2012 and began operating the club as Trump National Golf Club Jupiter. Both Trump and RBF, LLC are expected to file a response to the class action complaint by June 28.
Edwards Pottinger attorneys and co-counsel represents the three club members who filed the lawsuit. We will update this page periodically to provide information about the current status of the Trump National Class Action litigation.
Members Claim Club Owner Refused to Honor Agreement
Members of Trump National Golf Club Jupiter filed a lawsuit against the Trump entity which operates the club. Trump’s Jupiter Golf Club, LLC recently acquired the golf course, club house and other club facilities from The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court in Palm Beach County, alleges that the Trump entity, upon acquiring the club facilities also assumed responsibility to existing club members to refund membership deposits in accordance with the terms and conditions of the exisiting membership agreements.
The members who filed suit, further allege that the Trump entity breached certain membership agreements by terminating their categories of membership, refusing to refund membership deposits as required, and continuing to charge ongoing dues despite a representation that it would not do so.
The lawsuit was filed by three club members who allege that they purchased memberships from the prior club owner — RBF, LLC — and paid fully refundable membership deposits. The plaintiffs seek to have the lawsuit certified as a class action and have requested a refund of membership deposits, as well as other relief for themselves and other club members who are similarly situated.
The Proposed Class
The lawsuit seeks relief for the named plaintiffs as well as for other club members who paid refundable deposits in connection with their purchase of memberships to The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter and who have been denied a refund of their respective Membership Deposits by Defendants RBF, LLC and Donald Trump’s affiliated business Jupiter Golf Club LLC.
Plaintiffs allege that they and other club members paid substantial Membership Deposits to Defendant RBF, LLC ranging from approximately $35,000 to $210,000, as well as annual dues. The lawsuit claims that Membership Deposits are refundable based upon the terms of the applicable Membership Agreements which Plaintiffs and Class Members entered into with RBF.
Donald Trump, through Jupiter Golf Club LLC, recently purchased The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa Jupiter (the “Club”) from RBF, LLC. The lawsuit contends that immediately after acquiring the Club, Trump, through JGC, unilaterally changed the terms of membership, terminated the categories of membership enjoyed by Plaintiffs and Class Members who were members-in-good-standing on the resignation waiting list and has refused to refund Membership Deposits to Plaintiffs or Class Members.
Plaintiffs claim that since January 1, 2013, RBF has similarly failed and refused to refund Membership Deposits to Plaintiffs and Class Members despite the clear provisions in their Membership Agreement and Membership Plan which require RBF to refund Membership Deposits upon “termination of any category of membership”.
The lawsuit also contends that JGC represented to Plaintiffs and Class Members on multiple occasions that they would not have any further liability to pay club dues. Yet, despite these numerous consistent representations, JGC has continued to bill and send collection demands to Plaintiffs and Class Members.
Plaintiffs seek, for themselves and Class Members, a refund of membership deposits and a declaration concerning their liability for ongoing club dues and their liability under promissory notes issued to secure payment of membership deposits.
Please click below if you would like more information about this lawsuit or to obtain a copy of the complaint.