Golf Club Sued Over That Other Kind of Green


     MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CN) – Though the New Jersey National Golf Club promised to refund his $25,000 initiation fee, a Morris County man at No. 114 on “the refund waiting list” says in court that he doesn’t expect to see a dime for 16 years.
     Carl Lizza joined the Basking Ridge club in 2006, enticed by the “special membership benefits,” including refundable membership deposits, the April 6 complaint in Morris County Superior Court states.
     Lizza says he paid the $25,000 initiation fee and the $12,500 membership deposit with the understanding that he had to stay a member for at least five years to get his $25,000 returned in full.
     Over the years, however, “the club changed or modified its membership categories and membership rules such that it made it more difficult and less likely for resigning members to obtain a refund of all or a portion of the amounts paid to become a member of the club,” the eight-page complaint states.
     Lizza says that he realized the extent of this change when he attempted to end his membership at NJ National.
     It was two months after Lizza “provided the requisite written notice to the club in November 2012 that he was resigning from the Club, effective December 31, 2012,” that the club’s general responded via a letter that put Lizza “on the Club’s resignation wait list for Initiation fee refund,” according to the complaint.
     The letter allegedly advised Lizza that he was No. 128 on said waiting list, and over two years later he hasn’t moved much.
     Lizza says he “is now” No. 114 on the refund list.
     “Based on the rate at which [he] has been progressing on the refund waiting list, [he] will be eligible, according to the club, for the refund of his Initiation Fee in sixteen (16) years, or in 2031,” the complaint states.
     Further compounding the issue is that the club’s letter did not mention the return of all or a portion of the $25,000 fee, Lizza says.
     Claiming that the club is breaking its own rules by not reimbursing him the fees upon his departure, Lizza says the provisions of its membership materials “were false, misleading and/or had a capacity to mislead the consumers.”
     Declining to comment on the allegations, the New Jersey National Golf Club, through its General Manager Pierre Bohemond, said only that the club had not yet been served with the lawsuit.
     Lizza seeks the return of his $25,000 in fees from the club, in addition to damages for fraud and breach of contract. He is represented by Peter Herrigel of Hackensack, N.J.

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