Federal judge orders Donald Trump to pay former Jupiter golf club members $5.74 million

Posted at 2:14 PM, Feb 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-01 23:35:08-05

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump's Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter must pay former members nearly $6 million. 

Club members sued to get their deposits back after Trump bought the golf course from the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa in 2012.

When the Ritz owned it, deposits ranging from $35,000 to $210,000 were refundable. But once Trump bought the club, some members say Trump changed the rules and refused to return the deposits.

Judge Kenneth Marra, who refused several request by Trump to dismiss the 2013 lawsuit, ruled Wednesday that the club must pay a total of $5,744,010 in principal and interest.

Both Donald and Eric Trump were deposed in the matter, it went to trial before a judge in August.

Norman Hirsch says he and his wife, Julie, were excited when Trump bought the property from Ritz-Carlton in 2012.

“We had high hopes for Donald Trump doing a good thing with the club,” Hirsch says.

He even shared a photo with us, of Trump and his wife, Julie, at a party celebrating the purchase in December, 2012. “Donald Trump even made the comment that he thought it was a great picture,” Norman Hirsch remembers.

“I had no intention to leave,” he says.

The Hirsch’s liked the club but wanted to save $20,000 by resigning and the rejoining for a new lower fee. Others in the lawsuit were moving out of town, other’s simply wanted to leave the club, Norman Hirsch says.

“When your name goes off the (resignation) list, you get your money back and then you can leave the club. In the meantime you can use the club,” Hirsch says.

Other’s involved with the lawsuit, Hirsch says,

According to the lawsuit, Trump decided if you were on what the club called a “resignation list,” quote, "you're out."  You won't be charged anymore fees and you won't be allowed in.

But in February, Norman says a he got a bill.

“And then they were charging us dues and usage fees for a club we couldn't even get into.”

Some members on the list settled with Trump. “(We) had an agreement that was a refundable deposit and I wasn't willing to take 25 cents on the dollar,” Norman Hirsch says.

But 65 of them sued, and today they won, “Very happy,” he says about the result.

Going head to head with the now, President of the United States.  "It's strange. Obviously never imagined that."

The Trump organization said today they will appeal the decision.

In a statement, a Trump spokesperson said in part, quote,

"At the time Trump purchased the Club, it was suffering financially, making it unlikely that these members would ever get back their deposits. At trial, we presented overwhelming evidence that the plaintiffs' memberships were never recalled and that the plaintiffs had waived this argument during the course of litigation."

We'll report more on this as new information comes out.