Jack Nicklaus' Company Being Sued
By mustang6560 on 6/23/11
Life's not always peachy for the Golden Bear.

Jack Nicklaus and his company, the Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, is being sued by a Colorado couple for his role in a failed luxury resort in Utah.
E. Jeffrey Donner, a Fort Collins orthopedic surgeon, and his wife, Judee, claim the legendary golfer "solicited" them in 2007 to buy a $1.5 million membership and lot in the proposed Mount Holly Club, which was to include a Nicklaus-designed 18-hole golf course.

But when the $3.5 billion project near Beaver went belly up, the Donners claim Nicklaus and his company, Jack Nicklaus Golf Club, took no responsibility for the debts and obligations incurred by the primary developer, Mount Holly Partners LLC. The suit contends Nicklaus knew Mount Holly faced serious financial and legal problems but failed to disclose them.

The Donners seek to recoup their investment as well as punitive damages.
Do I think Donners were influenced to invest in the resort because of Jack Nicklaus' name? Absolutely. Should he be responsible because the company financing the project went belly up? Absolutely not.

This is the tricky part about doing business as a famous individual. Professional athletes and celebrities are often approached by businessmen who promise to help them grow their fortune, while at the same time making some money for themselves. The problem is, it doesn't always work out in the end.

I saw this first hand here in Jackson, Mississippi with Deuce McAllister. He is from Mississippi and played football at Ole Miss, then went on to play in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints. Deuce, who was looking to grow his money and brand image in the Jackson-area, went into business with a few people and got burned. So instead of growing his money, he lost money and the value of his name took a hit.

I doubt Jack will be found responsible for this and the value of his name won't suffer either. At worse, he'll settle for a smaller amount than what the Donnors want.

Full Story

photo by Keith Allison

[ comments ]
Trav says:
You always see claims like this when a deal goes sour: find as many deep pockets as you can, make a claim, hope for a settlement. I would be VERY surprised if the deal documents don't protect Jack's company (and the developer, too).
Kurt the Knife says:
ya gotta play big to lose big
Beekeeper45 says:
If they filed for bankruptcy protection, then its 1.5 in the sh@ter.
sigmapete1 says:
If they can prove that the Jack's company knew about the financial issues and used the building company to shield themselves from exposure to debts then the Donners can absolutely go after the Jack's company. You can call it fraud, equitable estoppel, reliance on the representations of Jack's company, and a lot of other things. They can't just disclaim responsibility if they induced this couple to make a shady investment. Keep in mind Jack's company didn't file for bankruptcy and they are the one's being sued.
Trav says:
@sigmapete - these agreements have clauses saying no reps are being made outside the agreement, no reliance by purchaser on any other statements, etc. Is the argument theoretically possible? Sure, but it's hard to overcome the usual contract terms, barring some really unusual facts.
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