• May 12, 2014

silver-spoonAs we start our work week, it is fitting to give some thought to those among us who are fabulously wealthy and who do not have to work.

Populists decry the redistribution of wealth in our society over the past several decades in which the rich have gotten a lot richer and the rest of our population (the 99%) has gotten poorer.

This makes it quite unpopular to fight for and vindicate the rights of the very rich. They’re people too, you know. And they have rights.

Zimmerman Reed is on it.

In 2003, Twin Cities developers, Steven and Brad Hoyt, bought in to condominiums at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch resort and the Ritz-Carlton Aspen Highlands resort. Specifically, each bought “an undivided fractional interest” in the condominiums. (Do business lawyers get a secret thrill from conjuring up such oxymoronic terms, I wonder?)

The Ritz-Carlton was offering a deal for folks like the Hoyts to “enjoy luxurious vacation homes with the exclusivity and amenities associated with Defendants’ Ritz-Carlton brand.”

The deal was that buyers would be able to use their units 21 days/year or reciprocal use of another similar unit on other Ritz-Carlton condominium property.

In 2009, the Ritz-Carlton defendants started a new “product,” called Portfolio Membership. This product was arguably identical to the earlier program that the Hoyts signed on to but less expensive. And this, in turn, meant that the Hoyts will likely have a hard time making money on the sale of their an undivided fractional interests. The identical but cheaper Portfolio Membership would undercut them.

Enter Zimmerman Reed to spearhead a proposed class action on behalf of the Hoyt brothers and other “similarly situated” “victims” of this treachery (referred to by many as “the free market”).

Sr. U.S. District Court Judge David S. Doty (D. Minn.) tossed out the majority of the Hoyts’ amended complaint in February.

The case survived the motion, however, by a hair. Defendants eliminated some resorts from the reciprocity arrangement after the Hoyt Deal and, Judge Doty ruled, it was not clear from the pleadings and the parties’ contracts that Defendants had a legal right to do so or whether this constituted a breach of contract. (One defendant’s answer to the amended complaint is here.)

So the next time you look out the window at cold rain and wretched weather and you, corroded with unhealthy envy, imagine some fat cat luxuriating at a resort while you work your tail off, try to console yourself: he could have had his heart set on the Bahamas but he had to make due with Aruba.

 

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