A Colorado couple succeeded in dragging Jack Nicklaus into a legal battle after a federal appeals court allowed the suit to go forward.
The couple Jeffrey and Judee Donner filed a lawsuit in 2011 against Nicklaus over a misrepresentation of his membership in Mount Holly, a luxury golf resort in Utah that went bankrupt in 2009 before it was even open. They also alleged that the legend “solicited” them in 2007 to invest $1.5 million in the resort.
More specifically, they mentioned promotional video that showed Nicklaus touring the development site for the resort and saying “I am so impressed with the Mount Holly Club and its management team that I became a charter member.” The couple alleged because of the marketing materials advertising Nicklaus as a “charter member” of the luxury resort, they decided to invest the money.
In the suit, the Donners sought recovery of their lost investment, among others, because Nicklaus mischaracterized his relationship with the resort. However, the lawsuit was dismissed by a district judge in 2013, and the couple appealed.
In the ruling, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Donners “adequately alleged intentional misrepresentation” and can challenge his relationship with the resort.
Although the appeals court partially reversed the district court’s decision, it affirmed the trial court’s rulings on three other claims that included Nicklaus’ liability for
“intentional misrepresentations or omissions involving progress of the development, availability of legal title and failure to disclose an executive’s criminal history.”
In 2011, however, Nicklaus’ attorney Jacque Ramos responded to the Donners’ claims that
“Jack Nicklaus and his golf club weren’t parties to the property or the [Donners’] investment in Mount Holly. His limited involvement was with respect to the design of the golf course and not with the business transaction with the Donners.”