LEE COUNTY — A handful of members who resigned from the Bonita Bay Club have banded together and are suing the developer in hopes of getting back nearly $1.5 million in deposits.
Last week, 21 former golf club members filed a lawsuit against Bonita Bay Properties Inc. and its affiliates in Collier County Circuit Court. Many are couples so the case actually involves nearly twice as many claimants. The amounts of the deposits they seek range from $15,000 to $105,000.
Gregory Woods, the Naples attorney representing the former club members, could not be immediately reached for comment.
The lawsuit alleges breach of contract, breach of club rules and breach of fiduciary duty. Bonita Bay Group executives could not be reached for comment.
The sale of the Bonita Bay Club to members was officially announced Thursday. It appears the plaintiffs in the case didn’t want to sign up for the new club.
Members joining the new club agreed to pay $11.5 million in cash for it and to accept only partial refunds for their deposits.
The resigned members who sued the developer March 12 joined the Bonita Bay Club between 1988 and 2003. According to the lawsuit, they all have promissory notes saying they will be repaid in full if they resign.
The Bonita Bay Club’s assets were pledged for loans totaling about $120 million, which interfered with the eventual turnover to members, the plaintiffs allege in their lawsuit.
They accuse the developer of borrowing money “excessively and irresponsibly” and diminishing the value of their promissory notes.
Bonita Bay Group stopped honoring its promise to immediately refund deposits to resigning members in November 2008. In May 2009, Tim Boates, the developer’s chief restructuring officer, said the developer would “never write another check to refund another membership,” according to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs allege they were injured by a “sham to perpetuate a fraud.”
While more than a dozen others have sued Bonita Bay Group hoping to get their deposits back, the cases usually have involved one or two members, not such a large group.
The group has several demands. They are asking for a lien on all dues, revenues and profits, and an order that all future dues, revenues and profits would be deposited into a court registry.
They want a trial.
Connect with Laura Layden at www.naplesnews.com/staff/laura_layden.