Donald Trump, a man who has publicly stated several times that he doesn’t settle lawsuits, has just settled a major one — for almost $5.5 million!
In his (at least) second lawsuit since his presidency began, Trump’s attorneys handled the multimillion-dollar settlement, which was between Trump and former members of the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida.
A lawsuit was brought against Trump by 65 former members after Trump blocked their entry and wouldn’t give them a refund on their deposits. At the time in 2012, the golf club had been owned by the Ritz-Carlton and was struggling when Trump decided to purchase it for $5 million. Once that happened, the names of these former members were put on the resignation list. Trump told the members after he became the owner of the club:
If you choose to remain on the resignation list, you’re out.”
When the Ritz-Carlton owned the property, members who were on the resignation list still had access to other facilities in the club — but Trump changed that. Unable to use anything in the club, the members on the resignation list tried to get refunds, which Trump denied. In response, the members sued Trump.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra sided with the plaintiffs, stating that Trump’s golf club, which is now operated by his son Eric Trump, breached its contract with club members.
Eric Trump, in an August 2016 trial, blasted the plaintiffs:
You’re either a member of the club or not a member of the club. That’s just how the golf industry works. You have to choose your poison. You can’t stay on the resignation list and get all the benefits of a full member. It’s just not fair.”
Judge Marra decided not to sympathize with that harsh approach and instead awarded the plaintiffs. He wrote:
With access removed from this equation, a person would have no Club membership. In other words, without a right to Club access, no membership would exist and this essential purpose of the membership contract would be nullified.”
Marra concluded that Trump and his company “committed a material breach of the Membership Agreement.”
Trump has tried to fight this for a while, with Trump spokesperson Amanda Miller previously stating “We respectfully disagree with the Court’s decision.” Miller said Trump would appeal — but he has chosen to settle instead as he realized he can’t win.
Seth Lehrman, the attorney for the plaintiffs, spoke of the results of the case and said, “That is exactly to the penny of what we asked for.” Thanks to the settlement, these former club members are finally rewarded for the unjust treatment by the Trumps.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images