HONOLULU (CN) – After paying $180,000 to join a country club, a man claims in court, it suspended him because of an “offhand comment” he made, which he says stemmed from his traumatic injury.
Jeffrey Reimer sued the Kuki’o Golf and Beach Club and Melanie Aiona, in Federal Court.
Reimer says he paid more than $180,000 to join the club, after buying a home and a spare lot in the Kuki’o subdivision. He also had to pay quarterly dues, which have changed over time, but were $9,500 for the first quarter of 2012, according to the complaint.
The club claims on its website to be “the only private equity golf and beach club on the Big Island of Hawaii.”
Reimer says that “a number of years ago,” he suffered “a nearly fatal, severe closed head injury that injured his brain.”
He adds: “Because of Reimer’s TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury], he is prone to make off-hand comments. Due to this manifestation and others of Reimer’s TBI his life, in particular his interactions with others, has been and continues to be negatively impacted on a daily basis.
He adds: “Reimer’s injury affected (his) personality in multiple ways,” but his “behaviors are not threatening or worrisome from a public safety point of view.”
The complaint states: “On January 13, 2012, Reimer’s TBI manifested itself when he was having a conversation with his therapist, Ms. Hoyle, at the club. Reimer made and off-hand comment while conversing with Ms. Hoyle. Reimer’s comment during his conversation with Ms. Hoyle was not directed at or to anyone at the Club, including Aiona.”
Aiona had been involved in a lawsuit and arbitration involving a former club employee, Van Calcar, Reimer says. He claims that “neither the club nor Kuki’o Corp has disseminated the confidential settlement [of the employment case] to the club’s equity members.”
He claims that after his offhand comment, “Aiona complained to the club’s management that Reimer had verbally assaulted her when Reimer was speaking to Ms. Hoyle, even though Reimer never talked to, or engaged in a conversation with, Aiona during the timeframe of [the] alleged incident.
“Upon information and belief, Aiona assumed herself a victim because of her recent involvement in the Van Calcar arbitration.
“Upon information and belief, Aiona’s involvement in the Val Calcar arbitration has caused her to have unreasonable and unjustified sensitivities to statements she overhears from club members and guests. Specifically, it is believed that Aiona unreasonably and unjustifiably believe that negative comments she overhears are about her because of the allegations against her arising from the Van Calcar arbitration and her role in Ms. Van Calcar’s dismissal.”
Two days after he made his “offhand comment,” Reimer says, the club sent him a letter “stating that Aiona had suffered from ‘severe distress'” because of what he’d said, and suspending him immediately.
Reimer says he ” affirmatively apologized, even though he believed he had done nothing wrong […] and he reminded the club that he suffered a serious injury that affects aspects of his personality. Reimer further specifically stated that his suspension was a violation of the club’s bylaws, and affirmatively requested a formal hearing, as was his right under the club’s governing documents.”
The club responded by demanding that Reimer be supervised while on its premises because of his disability, and told him to apologize again, Reimer says. He says club employees have taken to defaming him and his family, and that the club violated its own rules to punish him.
He demands damages for breach of contract, Americans With Disabilities Act violations, breach of faith, defamation, and intentional and negligent misrepresentation.
He is represented by Lyle Hosoda with Hosoda & Morikone.