Commitments And Contingencies
|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2019
|Commitments And Contingencies [Abstract]|
|Commitments And Contingencies||
11. Commitments and Contingencies
Adverse judgements and the costs of defending or resolving legal claims may be substantial and may have a material adverse impact on the Company’s financial statements. Management is not at this time able to estimate a range of reasonably possible losses with respect to matters in which it is reasonably possible that a loss will occur. In certain matters, management is unable to estimate the loss or reasonable range of loss until additional developments provide information sufficient to support an assessment of the loss or reasonable range of loss. Frequently in these matters, the claims are broad, and the plaintiffs have not quantified or factually supported their claim.
The following is a description of certain ongoing litigation matters:
BBX Capital Litigation
On August 24, 2016, Whitney Paxton and Jeff Reeser filed a lawsuit against Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc. (“BVU”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bluegreen, and certain of its employees (collectively, the “Defendants”), seeking to establish a class action of former and current employees of BVU and alleging violations of plaintiffs’ rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (the “FLSA”) and breach of contract. The lawsuit also sought damages in the amount of the unpaid compensation owed to the plaintiffs. The court granted preliminary approval of class action in September 2017 to conditionally certify collective action and facilitate notice to potential class members be granted with respect to certain employees and denied as to others. In February 2019, the parties agreed to settle the matter for an immaterial amount. It is expected that the court will approve the settlement and the dismissal of the lawsuit after the settlement documents are executed.
On September 22, 2017, Stephen Potje, Tamela Potje, Sharon Davis, Beafus Davis, Matthew Baldwin, Tammy Baldwin, Arnor Lee, Angela Lee, Gretchen Brown, Paul Brown, Jeremy Estrada, Emily Estrada, Michael Oliver, Carrie Oliver, Russell Walters, Elaine Walters, and Mike Ericson, individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated, filed a purported class action lawsuit against Bluegreen which asserts claims for alleged violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and the Florida False Advertising Law. In the complaint, the plaintiffs alleged the making of false representations in connection with Bluegreen’s sales of VOIs, including representations regarding the ability to use points for stays or other experiences with other vacation providers, the ability to cancel VOI purchases and receive a refund of the purchase price and the ability to roll over unused points, and that annual maintenance fees would not increase. The purported class action lawsuit was dismissed without prejudice after mediation. However, on or about April 24, 2018, plaintiffs re-filed their individual claims in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. Bluegreen intends to vigorously defend the action.
On February 28, 2018, Oscar Hernandez and Estella Michael filed a purported class action litigation in San Bernardino Superior Court against BVU. The central claims in the complaint, as amended during June 2018, include alleged failures to pay overtime and wages at termination and to provide meal and rest periods, as well as claims relating to non-compliant wage statements and unreimbursed business expenses; and a claim under the Private Attorney’s General Act. Plaintiffs seek to represent a class of approximately 660 hourly, non-exempt employees who worked in the state of California since March 1, 2014. An initial case management conference was held, and discovery was stayed pending completion of mediation. BVU intends to file a motion enforcing pre-dispute arbitration agreements, should the matter not settle, and to challenge class certification.
On June 28, 2018, Melissa S. Landon, Edward P. Landon, Shane Auxier and Mu Hpare, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a purported class action lawsuit against the Company and BVU asserting claims for alleged violations of the Wisconsin Timeshare Act, Wisconsin law prohibiting illegal referral selling, and Wisconsin law prohibiting illegal attorney’s fee provisions. Plaintiffs allegations include that Bluegreen failed to disclose the identity of the seller of real property at the beginning of Bluegreen’s initial contact with the purchaser; that Bluegreen misrepresented who the seller of the real property was; that Bluegreen misrepresented the buyer’s right to cancel; that Bluegreen included an illegal attorney’s fee provision in the sales document(s); that Bluegreen offered an illegal “today only” incentive to purchase; and that Bluegreen utilizes an illegal referral selling program to induce the sale of VOIs. Plaintiffs seek certification of a class consisting of all persons who, in Wisconsin, purchased from Bluegreen one or more VOIs within six years prior to the filing of this lawsuit. Plaintiffs seek statutory damages, attorneys’ fees and injunctive relief. Bluegreen believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend the action.
On January 7, 2019, Shehan Wijesinha filed a purported class action lawsuit alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. It is alleged that BVU called plaintiff’s cell phone for telemarketing purposes using an automated dialing system and that plaintiff did not give BVU his express written consent to do so. Plaintiffs seek certification of a class comprised of other persons in the United States who, within the four years prior to the filing of the complaint, received similar calls from or on behalf of BVU without the person’s consent. Plaintiff seeks monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and injunctive relief. Bluegreen believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend the action.
On January 7, 2019, Debbie Adair and thirty-four other timeshare purchasers filed a lawsuit against BVU and Bass Pro alleging violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act, the Tennessee Time-share Act, the California Time-Share Act, fraudulent misrepresentation for failure to make certain required disclosures, fraudulent inducement for inducing purchasers to remain under contract past rescission, unauthorized practice of law, civil conspiracy, unjust enrichment, and breach of contract. Plaintiffs seek rescission of their contracts, money damages, including statutory treble damages, or in the alternative, punitive damages in an amount not less than $0.5 million. Bluegreen believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend the action. Bluegreen has agreed to indemnify Bass Pro with respect to the claims brought against it in this proceeding. This matter was removed to federal court, and plaintiffs are seeking to remand the matter to state court. Bluegreen has opposed their motion to remand and filed a motion to dismiss on behalf of both defendants.
Commencing in 2015, it came to Bluegreen’s attention that its collection efforts with respect to its VOI notes receivable were being impacted by a then emerging, industry-wide trend involving the receipt of “cease and desist” letters from exit firms and attorneys purporting to represent certain VOI owners. Following receipt of these letters, Bluegreen is unable to contact the owners unless allowed by law. Bluegreen believes these exit firms have encouraged such owners to become delinquent and ultimately default on their obligations and that such actions and Bluegreen’s inability to contact the owners are a primary contributor to the increase in its annual default rates. Bluegreen’s average annual default rates have increased from 6.9% in 2015 to 8.2% in 2019. Bluegreen also estimates that approximately 15.8% of the total delinquencies on its VOI notes receivable as of March 31, 2019 related to VOI notes receivable subject to this issue. Bluegreen has in a number of cases pursued, and may in the future pursue, legal action against the VOI owners, and as described below, against the exit firms.
On December 21, 2018, Bluegreen and BVU filed a lawsuit against timeshare exit firm Totten Franqui and certain of its affiliates (“TPEs”). In the complaint, Bluegreen argues that through various forms of deceptive advertising, as well as inappropriate direct contact with VOI owners, the TPEs made false statements about Bluegreen and provided misleading information to the VOI owners. Bluegreen also believes that the TPEs induced Bluegreen’s VOI owners to breach their contracts and stop making payments to Bluegreen, which typically results in a default on the VOI note and termination of the VOI. Thereafter, the TPEs, despite often times doing no more than encouraging non-payment, claim that they “helped” the consumer “exit” their timeshare contract. Bluegreen believes that this has resulted in the consumer paying fees to the TPEs in exchange for illusory services. Bluegreen has asserted claims under the Lanham Act, as well as tortious interference with contractual relations, civil conspiracy to commit tortious interference, and other claims.
The following is a description of certain commitments, contingencies, and guarantees:
In lieu of paying maintenance fees for unsold VOI inventory, Bluegreen provides subsidies to certain HOAs to provide funds to operate and maintain vacation ownership properties in excess of assessments collected from owners of the VOIs. During the three months ended March 31, 2019, Bluegreen made payments related to such subsidies of $1.9 million. Bluegreen did not make any subsidy payments in connection with these arrangements during the three months ended March 31, 2018. As of March 31, 2019, Bluegreen had $4.2 million accrued for such subsidies, which is included in other liabilities in the Company’s condensed consolidated statement of financial condition. As of December 31, 2018, Bluegreen had no accrued liabilities for such subsidies.
In August 2016, BBX Capital entered into a severance arrangement with a former executive pursuant to which the executive is entitled to receive $3.7 million in cash payments over a three-year period ending in August 2019. As of March 31, 2019, the Company had a $0.5 million liability remaining under this arrangement, which is included in other liabilities in the Company’s condensed consolidated statement of financial condition.
In December 2018, Bluegreen entered into an agreement with an executive in connection with his retirement. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Bluegreen agreed to make payments totaling approximately $2.0 million through December 2019. As of March 31, 2019, Bluegreen had a $1.4 million liability remaining under this agreement, which is included in other liabilities in the Company’s condensed consolidated statement of financial condition.
Bluegreen has an exclusive marketing agreement with Bass Pro, a nationally-recognized retailer of fishing, marine, hunting, camping and sports gear, that provides Bluegreen with the right to market and sell vacation packages at kiosks in each of Bass Pro’s retail locations and through other means. As of March 31, 2019, Bluegreen sold vacation packages in 69 of Bass Pro’s stores. Bluegreen compensates Bass Pro based on VOI sales generated through the program. No compensation is paid to Bass Pro under the agreement on sales made at Bluegreen/Big Cedar Vacations’ resorts although Bluegreen/Big Cedar Vacations pays an affiliate of Bass Pro brand licensing and marketing fees on certain of those sales. During the three months ended March 31, 2019 and 2018, VOI sales to prospects and leads generated by the agreement with Bass Pro accounted for approximately 12% of Bluegreen’s VOI sales volume.
As previously disclosed, in March 2019, Bluegreen received a notice from Bass Pro stating that Bass Pro intended to cancel Bluegreen’s access to the Bass Pro marketing channels and advertising materials as of 30 days from the date of the notice unless Bluegreen cured the alleged breaches to Bass Pro’s satisfaction.
The alleged breaches cited in the notice included those previously disclosed by Bluegreen, and specifically Bass Pro’s belief that the amounts paid to it as VOI sales commissions should not have been adjusted for certain purchaser defaults, breaches regarding the calculation of commissions and other amounts payable under the marketing agreement and other related agreements, including reimbursements paid to Bluegreen, as well as matters regarding the operations at Bluegreen/Big Cedar Vacations. In addition, the notice referenced a breach Bass Pro alleged in 2014 regarding customer service. Bluegreen sent a response to Bass Pro with respect to each of these issues prior to the expiration of the cure period.
On April 17, 2019, Bass Pro, LLC and Big Cedar, LLC brought an action against BVU, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bluegreen, alleging that BVU failed to pay certain commissions due it under the parties’ marketing agreement, improperly charged a tour generation fee and that its conduct in the Bass Pro stores breached its contractual commitments. Bass Pro seeks damages in an amount in excess of $10.0 million plus interest and attorneys’ fees, and such additional relief as the court determines. BVU believes that this lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend the action. The parties are continuing to attempt to resolve the outstanding issues, and to date, Bass Pro has not cancelled Bluegreen’s access to Bass Pro Marketing channels. However, if the issues with Bass Pro are not resolved, Bluegreen’s results will be adversely impacted, and Bluegreen intends, in that case, to pursue all remedies available to it, including pursuing recovery of damages suffered as a result of Bass Pro’s actions.
The entire disclosure for commitments, contingencies, and guarantees.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef