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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2010 7 years ago

Commissioner expresses Key Club project concerns

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

A Longboat Key resident and Pennsylvania lawyer sent a letter to the commission last week that said making changes to the Islandside golf course for the Longboat Key Club and Resort’s Islandside renovation-and-expansion project may allow Key Club members to sue for a breach of contract.

Attaching his own membership contract, club member Francis Robinson pointed out a phrase that states that full membership includes “unlimited use of 45 holes of championship golf, two driving ranges with complimentary range balls, etc.”

Wrote Robinson: “By making changes applicable to the golf course and the use thereof may be subject to a claim by the golf members of inducing a breach of contract between the existing members and the privately owned Key Club owners and financiers.”

Those who sue, Robinson said, could ask for damages that include a $50,000 initial membership fee and a $12,000 annual golfing fee.

Robinson called it “highly doubtful” that the commission or the town’s bonding company would cover those types of damages.

Wrote Robinson: “And the taxpayers of the town should in no case be subjected to that risk of a lawsuit.”
The letter triggered an e-mail sent by Commissioner Gene Jaleski to town attorney David Persson Saturday, March 27, in which Jaleski expressed concern with breach-of-contract issues and density-right issues raised about the Islandside project.

Jaleski also expressed concern with “unintended consequences” that may arise that would force a commissioner to pay for legal costs associated with a lawsuit.

Persson, in an e-mail response dated Tuesday, March 30, told Jaleski that state and local laws grant commissioners qualified immunity and indemnify them for acts arising out of their position as commissioners.

Persson also points out a section of the town code, which states that “the town shall indemnify and hold harmless its Town Commissioners from all personal liability for damages and costs, including court costs and attorney’s fees, arising out of claims, suits, litigation ... against these individuals because of acts or circumstances connected with or arising out of their official duty or employment ... ”

Persson also said if club members believe that something the town grants breaches agreements with the club, the members can bring legal action against the club, but not the town.

Contact Kurt Schulteis at [email protected].

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