Cordillera lawsuit could cost Wilhelm $108 million
EDWARDS – Some of Cordillera’s property owners and club members filed a lawsuit that could cost the Club at Cordillera owner David Wilhelm up to $108 million.
When Club at Cordillera owner Wilhelm and the Wilhelm Family Partnership refused to open three of Cordillera’s four golf courses this summer, he breached his contract with club members, according to a lawsuit filed last week in District Court.
The lawsuit says, in effect, that Wilhelm took up to $8 million this year to run golf courses, then announced he’d keep the money but not open the courses.
“After … he had collected the annual dues for 2011, David Wilhelm announced in an email to club members that he would not open all the golf courses but would close three of the four golf courses and their associated clubhouses,” the lawsuit said.
Cordillera’s membership plan calls for access to four golf courses and facilities.
And that is where Wilhelm could end up on the hook for up to $100 million in membership deposits, as well as the $8 million in this year’s dues.
“If he has materially breached all of those membership agreements, and the club no longer exists as we have known it, we want our membership deposits back,” said Cheryl Foley, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed last week.
In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs produced emails in which Wilhelm promised that, “We will open and provide members access to all four golf courses, clubhouses and related facilities in 2011.”
They produced an email in which Wilhelm said, “We understand this has been a concern for many of you and we trust that this will allay any fears or reservation you may have.”
But in May, Wilhelm slapped a $96.5 million lawsuit on Cordillera’s property owners associations, the Cordillera Transition Corporation and several individual property owners. Wilhelm asserted that they were conspiring to squeeze him out of the Club at Cordillera.
The next day, Wilhelm announced he would not open two of Cordillera’s four golf courses. The maintenance crews, dozens of people, were all fired that morning.
“He promised everyone in an email that if we paid our dues he’d open the courses, but then he just changed his mind, which just doesn’t seem nice,” Foley said.
Dozens of jobs were lost – both permanent and seasonal – and families were devastated when Wilhelm refused to open the golf courses, Foley said.
The Cordillera Metro District’s bond ratings were lowered in the wake of all this, which will make it more costly for them to borrow money.
“This is not right,” Foley said. “It’s unfair and it’s someone in a position of power exercising that power over people who cannot fight back.”
“If we can all do our little part to help them, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Foley said.
The property owners, led by Foley, an Edwards local, and four other Cordillera residents, won a victory last week when District Court Judge Fred Gannett issued a three-phase ruling on their behalf:
• Wilhelm is banned from spending membership dues money on anything except “the necessary maintenance and operation of the Club’s four golf courses and related facilities.”
• A certified public accountant will audit Wilhelm’s books every month.
• The property owners and plaintiffs get to approve the accountant.
“Cordillera Club members obtained a temporary injunction requiring the appointment of an independent accountant acceptable to the members to monitor the expenditure of funds from the dues account, and to perform an accounting,” said Brett Heckman, their attorney.
The lawsuit is filed not only by the five named plaintiffs, but also “on behalf of all others similarly situated,” which leaves open the possibility of a class action lawsuit against Wilhelm.
“It’s something we are continuing to discuss. It’s our intention to protect everyone who paid their dues and their membership deposits,” Foley said.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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