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Trump company settles lawsuit over disputed golf club deposits

/ Source: Reuters
Image: President Trump addresses CPAC Conference in Maryland
President Donald Trump speaks at the 45th annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on February 23, 2018 in National Harbor, Maryland.Chris Kleponis / Pool via EPA

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A Florida golf club owned by President Donald Trump agreed on Friday to pay $5.45 million to settle claims by former members that it wrongfully refused to refund their deposits when they wanted to resign.

The payout is more than 94 percent of the $5.77 million that U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra, who must approve the settlement, last February had ordered the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, to pay.

Lawyers for the golf club and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The club had been scheduled to argue its appeal of Marra’s ruling in May, court records show.

"In our view, the class prevailed," Brad Edwards, a lawyer for the former club members, said in an email.

The lawsuit began after Trump changed membership rules for the club, which he had acquired from Ritz-Carlton in November 2012.

The motorcade for President Donald Trump arrives at the Trump National Golf Club on Nov. 24, 2017 in Jupiter, Fla.
The motorcade for President Donald Trump arrives at the Trump National Golf Club on Nov. 24, 2017 in Jupiter, Fla.Alex Brandon / AP file

Under the old rules, members who wanted to resign could keep playing golf until their replacements were found.

But Trump declared in a letter that "as the owner of the club" he did not want them using the club, and "you’re out."

Marra, in his February 2017 ruling, said this served to cancel the memberships, justifying a return of $4.85 million of deposits to 65 members, plus interest.

In court papers on Friday, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said the former members would recoup about 71 percent of their deposits, after deducting legal fees and expenses.

The lawyers called the settlement "fundamentally fair, reasonable, and adequate."

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