Commitments And Contingencies
|9 Months Ended|
Sep. 30, 2020
|Commitments And Contingencies [Abstract]|
|Commitments And Contingencies||
8. Commitments and Contingencies
In the ordinary course of business, BVH and its subsidiaries are parties to lawsuits as plaintiff or defendant involving its operations and activities. Bluegreen is subject to claims or proceedings from time to time relating to the purchase, sale, marketing, or financing of VOIs and other business activities. Additionally, from time to time in the ordinary course of business, the Company is involved in disputes with existing and former employees, vendors, taxing jurisdictions, and other individuals and entities, and we also receive individual consumer complaints as well as complaints received through regulatory and consumer agencies, including Offices of State Attorneys General. The Company takes these matters seriously and attempts to resolve any such issues as they arise. We may also become subject to litigation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including with respect to any actions we take as a result thereof.
Reserves are accrued for matters in which management believes it is probable that a loss will be incurred and the amount of such loss can be reasonably estimated. Management does not believe that the aggregate liability relating to known contingencies in excess of the aggregate amounts accrued will have a material impact on the Company’s results of operations or financial condition. However, litigation is inherently uncertain, and the actual costs of resolving legal claims, including awards of damages, may be substantially higher than the amounts accrued for these claims and may have a material adverse impact on the Company’s results of operations or financial condition.
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 range of loss. Frequently in these matters, the claims are broad, and the plaintiffs have not quantified or factually supported their claim.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act (“CARES Act”) was signed into law on March 27, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of September 30, 2020, we evaluated the income tax provisions of the CARES Act and determined they would have no significant effect on either our September 30, 2020 income tax rate or the computation of our estimated effective tax rate for the year ended December 31, 2020. However, we have taken advantage of the deferral of the employer portion of the tax withholding amounts and the employee retention tax credits provided for in the CARES Act. During the nine months ended September 30, 2020, we recorded a tax withholding deferral of $5.1 million and employee retention tax credits of $6.9 million, which is included in selling, general and administrative expenses in our unaudited consolidated statements of operations and comprehensive income for the nine months ended September 30, 2020.
The following is a description of certain litigation matters:
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 asserted 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. 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. Subsequently, on October 15, 2019, the Court entered an order granting summary judgment in favor of Bluegreen and dismissed all claims. Bluegreen has moved for reimbursement of its attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs have appealed the summary judgment order.
On February 28, 2018, Oscar Hernandez and Estella Michael filed purported class action litigation in San Bernardino Superior Court against Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc. (“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. In April 2019, the parties mediated and agreed to settle the matter for an immaterial amount. The parties have executed the settlement documents. The court issued preliminary approval of the settlement agreement on September 8, 2020. The final approval hearing is set for January 2021.
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 Bluegreen 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 has moved to dismiss the case, and on November 27, 2019, the Court issued a ruling granting the motion in part. Bluegreen has answered the remaining claims. 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 (the “TCPA”). 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. Plaintiff seeks certification of a class comprised of other persons in the United States who 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 July 15, 2019, the court entered an order staying this case pending a ruling from the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) clarifying the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system under the TCPA and the decision of the Eleventh Circuit in a separate action brought against a VOI company by a plaintiff alleging violations of the TCPA. On January 7, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit issued a ruling consistent with BVU’s position, and on June 26, 2020, the FCC also issued a favorable ruling. The case currently remains stayed.
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. Bluegreen agreed to indemnify Bass Pro with respect to the claims brought against Bluegreen in this proceeding and filed a motion to dismiss. On April 6, 2020, the court granted Bluegreen’s motion to dismiss, and on April 29, 2020, the court entered final judgment in Bluegreen’s favor.
On July 18, 2019, Eddie Boyd, et al. filed an action alleging that BVU and co-defendants violated the Missouri Merchandise Practices Act for allegedly making false statements and misrepresentations with respect to the sale of VOIs. Plaintiffs further have filed a purported class action allegation that BVU’s charging of an administrative processing fee constitutes the unauthorized practice of law and have also asserted that Bluegreen and their outside counsel engaged in abuse of process by filing a lawsuit against plaintiffs’ counsel (The Montgomery Law Firm). Plaintiffs seek monetary damages, attorneys’ fees, and injunctive relief. On August 31, 2020, the Judge certified a class regarding the unauthorized practice of law claim and dismissed the claims regarding abuse of process. Bluegreen believes the lawsuit is without merit.
On July 7, 2020, Robert Barban and approximately 172 other plaintiffs filed an action against Bluegreen subsidiaries, Bluegreen Resorts Management, Inc. (“BRM”) and Vacation Trust, Inc. (“VTI”), seeking a financial review. Plaintiffs further allege that the allocation system in place does not allow them to freely and easily use, occupy, and enjoy the accommodations and facilities. Finally, they allege that BRM has unreasonably escalated operating costs and that VTI failed to protect the plaintiffs from these costs. Bluegreen intends to vigorously defend the action and intend to move to dismiss the complaint on a number of grounds including the parties’ agreements to arbitrate these issues.
On July 14, 2020, Kenneth Johansen, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed a purported class action against BVU for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Specifically, the named plaintiff alleges that he received at least nine telemarketing calls from BVU while he was on the National Do Not Call Registry. He seeks to certify a class of similarly situated plaintiffs. Bluegreen intends to vigorously defend the action. Bluegreen filed a motion to dismiss, and plaintiff in response filed an amended complaint on September 18, 2020. Bluegreen filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint on October 2, 2020, which is fully briefed and pending before the Court. Discovery has begun and is ongoing.
On August 30, 2020, over 100 VOI owners at The Manhattan Club (“TMC”) sued BVU and certain unaffiliated entities (the “Non-Bluegreen Defendants”). The complaint includes claims arising out of alleged misrepresentations made during the sale of VOIs at TMC and certain post-sale operational practices, including allegedly charging owners excessive annual maintenance fees and implementing reservation policies that the restrict the ability of VOI owners to use their points to access the resort while allowing the general public to make reservations. The plaintiffs assert in the complaint that Bluegreen acquired operational control of TMC from the Non-Bluegreen Defendants in 2018 and assumed joint liability for any prior wrongdoing by them. Bluegreen believes this assertion to be erroneous and that the claims against BVU are without merit.
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 9.7% in 2020. Bluegreen also estimated that approximately 13.7% of the total delinquencies on its VOI notes receivable as of June 30, 2020 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 filed a lawsuit against timeshare exit firm Totten Franqui and certain of its affiliates (“TPEs”). In the complaint, Bluegreen alleged that the TPEs, through various forms of deceptive advertising, as well as inappropriate direct contact with VOI owners, made false statements about Bluegreen and provided misleading information to the VOI owners. The TPEs have encouraged nonpayment by consumers and exacted fees for doing so. Bluegreen believes the consumers are paying fees to the TPEs in exchange for illusory services and has asserted claims against the TPEs under the Lanham Act, as well as tortious interference with contractual relations, civil conspiracy to commit tortious interference, and other claims. During the course of the litigation, the TPEs and Totten Franqui filed for bankruptcy, which resulted in the litigation being stayed. Bluegreen has reached favorable settlements with the
TPE principals and are awaiting formal court approval of a settlement with the bankruptcy trustee. The settlement with the principals includes findings of fact against the defendants regarding their business practices and a permanent injunction prohibiting the principals of the TPE from working again in the timeshare exit space.
On November 13, 2019, Bluegreen filed a lawsuit against timeshare exit firm The Montgomery Law Firm and certain of its affiliates (also included in “TPEs”). In the complaint, Bluegreen alleged, as discussed above, that the TPEs, through various forms of deceptive advertising, as well as inappropriate direct contact with VOI owners, made false statements about Bluegreen, provided misleading information to the VOI owners, and encouraged nonpayment by consumers. Bluegreen believes the consumers are paying fees to the TPEs in exchange for illusory services. Bluegreen has asserted claims against the TPEs under the Lanham Act, as well as tortious interference with contractual relations, civil conspiracy to commit tortious interference, and other claims. Defendants have moved to dismiss the complaint which is pending.
The following is a description of certain commitments, contingencies, and guarantees:
Bluegreen, indirectly through BVU, its wholly-owned subsidiary, 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 certain Bass Pro and Cabela’s retail locations and through other means. Pursuant to a settlement agreement Bluegreen entered into with Bass Pro and its affiliates during June 2019, Bluegreen paid Bass Pro $20.0 million during June 2019 and agreed to, among other things, make five annual payments to Bass Pro of $4.0 million in January of each year commencing in 2020. In June 2019, Bluegreen accrued for the net present value of the settlement, plus attorney’s fees and costs, totaling approximately $39.1 million. The first $4.0 million annual payment was made during January 2020. As of September 30, 2020, $14.5 million was accrued for the remaining payments required by the settlement agreement, which are included in other liabilities in the Company’s condensed consolidated statement of financial condition as of September 30, 2020.
During the nine months ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, VOI sales to prospects and leads generated by the agreement with Bass Pro accounted for approximately 11% and 13%, respectively, of Bluegreen’s VOI sales volume. In March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bluegreen temporarily closed its retail marketing operations at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores. Subject to the terms and conditions of the settlement agreement, Bluegreen will generally be required to pay the fixed annual fee with respect to at least 59 Bass Pro retail stores and a minimum number of Cabela’s retail stores that increases over time to a total of at least 60 Cabela’s retail stores by the end of 2021. In January 2020, Bluegreen paid $5.2 million for this fixed fee, of which $1.3 million was prepaid and is included in the Company’s unaudited condensed consolidated statement of financial condition as of September 30, 2020. Bluegreen had marketing operations at 26 Cabela’s stores at September 30, 2020 and is required to begin marketing operations in at least 14 more stores by December 31, 2020. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the minimum number of Bass Pro and Cabela’s retail stores for purposes of the fixed annual fee may be reduced under certain circumstances set forth in the agreement, including as a result of a reduction of traffic in the stores in excess of 25% year-over-year.
Beginning in mid-May 2020, Bluegreen resumed its retail marketing operations at certain Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores. By September 30, 2020, Bluegreen recommenced marketing operations at 87 Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores and commenced marketing operations at 5 new Cabela’s stores. Additionally, in October 2020, Bluegreen recommenced marketing operations in 1 additional Bass Pro Shop and commenced marketing operations at 4 new Cabela’s stores for a total of 97 Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores.
In lieu of paying maintenance fees for unsold VOI inventory, Bluegreen may enter into subsidy agreements with certain HOAs. During the nine months ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, Bluegreen paid $7.7 million and $10.5 million, respectively, in subsidy payments in connection with these arrangements. As of September 30, 2020, Bluegreen accrued $10.1 million for such subsidies, which is included in other liabilities in the Company’s condensed consolidated statement of financial condition. As of December 31, 2019, Bluegreen had no accrued liabilities for such subsidies.
In December 2019, Bluegreen’s then-serving President and Chief Executive Officer resigned. In connection with his resignation, Bluegreen agreed to make payments totaling $3.5 million over a period of 18 months, $1.8 million of which remained payable as of September 30, 2020. Additionally, during 2019, Bluegreen entered into certain agreements with other executives related to their separation from Bluegreen or change in position. Pursuant to the terms of these agreements, Bluegreen agreed to make payments totaling $2.5 million through September 30, 2020. All payments have been made under these agreements as of September 30, 2020.
No definition available.
The entire disclosure for commitments, contingencies, and guarantees.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef