Thursday, March 18, 2010

Florida Sues Bonita Bay Group, Inc.

Bonita Bay Group Alleged In Failure To Refund Deposits

TALLAHASSEE, FL ­ Attorney General Bill McCollum has announced that his office has filed a lawsuit against the Bonita Bay Group, Inc. over allegations the company took hundreds of thousands of dollars in membership fees to country clubs, marinas and other social establishments, but failed to provide the promised refunds. The lawsuit alleges that despite demands, Bonita Bay Group has not refunded membership deposits to approximately 800 resigned members and may owe over $215 million in un-returned membership deposits.

The Bonita Bay Group owns development lands in Hendry county, and has an office in LaBelle.

The lawsuit states that an integral part of Bonita Bay Group's marketing strategy is the marketing of club memberships with the written representation that a member's deposit, which ranged from $25,000 to $180,000, would be immediately refunded within 30 days of a member's resignation.

Consumers reported that Bonita Bay Group amended the membership plans in November 2008 and suspended the immediate refund of membership deposits. According the lawsuit, the opportunity for an instant refund of membership deposits was an integral part of the Bonita Bay Group's real estate development and marketing and the sale of residential home sites and amenities to consumers, prior to November 2008. The lawsuit alleges the suspension of the instant refund program constitutes violations of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.

The Attorney General has requested that the Court grant a permanent injunction against the company and full restitution for any victims. The Attorney General is also seeking civil penalties of $10,000 per violation or $15,000 per violation if the victim was an elderly citizen or disabled individual. The lawsuit also seeks the recovery of any fees and costs associated with the litigation and investigation.

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