Partner Barry Postman and Associate Sheena Smith of CSK’s West Palm Beach obtained a Final Arbitration Award in favor of private golf and country club (the “Club”) following a 2-day binding arbitration hearing.
The Club suspended Claimant’s membership for six months following a grievance hearing and an appellate hearing after it received complaints from two members and two employees asserting that Claimant had exposed the members and employee to COVID during a golf outing. The Club forwarded the complaints to the grievance committee, which conducted a full grievance proceeding.
The grievance committee found that following Claimant’s live-in partner’s hospitalization the night before; Claimant knowingly exposed the members and employee to COVID by failing to disclose his partner had been hospitalized with flu-like symptoms the night before. The grievance committee recommended Claimant’s membership privileges be suspended for six months. After an appeal hearing, the Board of Directors upheld the six-month suspension.
Following his suspension, the Claimant filed a Demand for Arbitration, asserting the Club lacked the authority to suspend him and that the suspension was excessive. Claimant sought $250,000 for reputational damages, reimbursement of his membership dues, fees, and associated charges associated with his membership, and attorney’s fees and costs.
In response, the Club argued the business judgment rule barred Claimant’s claims because the Club suspended Claimant in accordance with its policies and pursuant to a procedure conducted fairly, reasonably, and in good faith. The Club also argued courts (including arbitrators) do not review the internal membership decisions of private social clubs, including country clubs. Thus, there was no basis for the relief sought by Claimant.
After the two-day arbitration hearing, the Arbitrator found in favor of the Club and entered a Final Award against Claimant on all claims.
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