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Attorney General Bonta, Controller Cohen Announce Settlement with ClubCorp for Holding Millions Owed to Members

OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta and California State Controller Malia Cohen today announced a settlement with ClubCorp Holdings Inc., a Texas-based company that is the owner-operator of more than 200 private golf and country clubs nationwide. According to the 2019 complaint filed by the Attorney General’s Office, ClubCorp failed to repay more than $43 million in membership deposits owed to its more than 30,000 California members. Separately, the State Controller’s Office also sued ClubCorp in 2019. Today’s settlement resolves both lawsuits and will require the company to, among other things, seek out and repay consumers their full deposits with 10% per year interest and pay the State Controller and the Attorney General’s Office $31.25 million in damages and penalties.

“Today, we are holding ClubCorp to account,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “For decades, the company was illegally pocketing money that should have been returned to its members. ClubCorp’s own contracts confirmed as much. I’m proud of the work done by my team to secure this measure of justice for the thousands of Californians who were wronged, and I am grateful to Controller Cohen for her partnership on this matter.”

“As administrator of California’s Unclaimed Property Law, my office ensures businesses rightfully return funds owed to their customers. Transparency is a core principle in everything we do, and this type of shady activity will not be tolerated,” said State Controller Malia Cohen. “I thank Attorney General Bonta for working with my office to hold ClubCorp accountable and ensure the highest levels of consumer protection for Californians.”

Under the contract terms entered into by ClubCorp members, the money — paid as deposits by members — had to be returned after 30 years. Instead, ClubCorp only returned the money upon demand. If ClubCorp did not receive a demand for a refund, it would continue using the money for its own purposes. Given that the deposits were to be refunded 30 years after they were paid, more than 30,000 members did not think to demand their refunds. In addition, because the club targeted members in mid-life, many of the members to whom the club owed dues are senior citizens.

Under the settlement:

  • ClubCorp will seek out affected California consumers and return their full deposits. In total, the company owes over $43 million. Consumers will also receive 10% interest per annum on their deposits starting from the time the deposit came due for repayment.
  • If after a year-long outreach process, when the rightful owner of a deposit cannot be found, ClubCorp will deliver a percentage of the unreturned deposits to the Controller. The deposits will then be repaid in full if a consumer contacts the Controller.
  • ClubCorp will pay the State Controller and the Attorney General’s Office $31.25 million in damages and penalties.
  • ClubCorp will enter into a permanent injunction requiring the company to notify members as their deposits become due and make refunds. If a deposit cannot be refunded, it must be delivered to the Controller.

A copy of the settlement agreement and signed stipulated judgment can be found here and here.