In a December 2012 letter to club members, he wrote, the rules had to be changed to assure the club became the “ultra-prestigious club” he envisioned.
Therefore, he explained, “if a person is on the resignation list, the membership does not want them to be an active member of the club — likewise as the owner of the club, I do not want them to utilize the club nor do I want their dues.
“In other words,” he continued, “we are committed to seeing Trump National Golf Club – Jupiter on the list of the best clubs in the world and if you choose to remain on the resignation list, you’re out.”
Shortly after, members said they were barred from using the club. Further, they claim, club officials have refused to return their deposits as they were required to do under their membership contracts with the Ritz.
At a hearing in March, Trump attorneys argued that the disgruntled members were denied entry because they hadn’t paid their dues. Further, they argued, Trump offered them attractive options to remain members.
If they agreed to give up their deposits, their annual dues would drop to $17,500 for three years and they would also get the use of 14 other Trump clubs around the country, including Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach. Those who didn’t “opt-in” would see their annual dues jump to $21,500 and they wouldn’t get the chance to use other Trump facilities, according to the letter.
The options, those who filed suit claimed, constituted a breach of contract because it changed the terms of the long-standing agreement they had when they joined the club.
But, Trump attorneys countered, the club didn’t refuse to refund the deposits. Under another plan, longtime members would get their deposits back once new members signed up. Those who filed suit simply wanted to jump to the front of a very long line, they argued.
Marra said there is a true difference of opinion regarding the new rules. The disagreement turns on various details, such as the definition of such terms as “recall of the membership,” he wrote. That, he said, will be up to a jury to decide.