Commitments And Contingencies
|3 Months Ended|
Mar. 31, 2020
|Commitments And Contingencies [Abstract]|
|Commitments And Contingencies||
9. Commitments and Contingencies
Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited (“BVU”), our 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 us with the right to market and sell vacation packages at kiosks in each of Bass Pro’s retail locations and through other means. Pursuant to a settlement agreement we entered into with Bass Pro and its affiliates during June 2019, we paid Bass Pro $20.0 million 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, we 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 March 31, 2020, $14.7 million was accrued for the remaining payments required by the settlement agreement, which are included in accrued liabilities and other in the consolidated balance sheet as of March 31, 2020.
During most of the quarter ending March 31, 2020, Bluegreen was actively selling vacation packages in 68 of Bass Pro’s stores and 21 Cabela’s retail stores. During the three months ended March 31, 2020 and 2019, VOI sales to prospects and leads generated by the agreement with Bass Pro accounted for approximately 10% and 12%, respectively, of our VOI sales volume. In March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we temporarily closed our retail marketing operations at Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s stores. We are currently developing a plan to reopen these operations.
In December 2019, our President and Chief Executive Officer resigned. In connection with his resignation, we agreed to make payments to him or on his behalf totaling $3.5 million over a period of 18 months, $2.9 million of which remained payable as of March 31, 2020. Additionally, during 2019, we entered into certain agreements with other executives related to their separation from Bluegreen or change in position. Pursuant to the terms of these agreements, we agreed to make payments totaling $2.5 million through November 2020. As of March 31, 2020, $1.0 million remained payable under these agreements.
In lieu of paying maintenance fees for unsold VOI inventory, we may enter into subsidy agreements with certain HOAs. We paid $1.9 million in subsidy payments in connection with these arrangements during both of the three months ended March 31, 2020 and 2019. As of March 31, 2020, we had $3.3 million accrued for such subsidies, which is included in accrued liabilities and other in the unaudited Consolidated Balance Sheet as of such date. As of December 31, 2019, we had no accrued liabilities for such subsidies.
In the ordinary course of business, we become subject to claims or proceedings from time to time relating to the purchase, sale, marketing, or financing of VOIs or our other business activities. We are also subject to certain matters relating to the Bluegreen Communities’ business, substantially all of the assets of which were sold by us on May 4, 2012. Additionally, from time to time in the ordinary course of business, we become involved in disputes with existing and former employees, vendors, taxing jurisdictions and various other parties, and we also receive individual consumer complaints, as well as complaints received through regulatory and consumer agencies, including Offices of State Attorneys General. We take these matters seriously and attempt 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 or may be required to 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 our 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 our 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.
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 us 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 our 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. We have moved for reimbursement of our 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 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. It is expected that the court will approve the settlement and the dismissal of the lawsuit after the settlement documents are executed.
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 we failed to disclose the identity of the seller of real property at the beginning of our initial contact with the purchaser; that we misrepresented who the seller of the real property was; that we misrepresented the buyer’s right to cancel; that we included an illegal attorney’s fee provision in the sales document(s); that we offered an illegal “today only” incentive to purchase; and that we utilize 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 us one or more VOIs within six years prior to the filing of this lawsuit. Plaintiffs seek statutory damages, attorneys’ fees and injunctive relief. We moved to dismiss the case, and on November 27, 2019, the Court issued a ruling granting the motion in part. We have answered the remaining claims. We believe the lawsuit is without merit and intend 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. We believe the lawsuit is without merit and intend 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 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, but 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. We agreed to indemnify Bass Pro with respect to the claims brought against us in this proceeding. We filed a motion to dismiss. On April 6, 2020, the court granted our motion to dismiss, and on April 29, 2020, the court entered final judgment in our 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. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages, attorneys’ fees and injunctive relief. We have moved to dismiss the action. We believe the lawsuit is without merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.
Commencing in 2015, it came to our attention that our collection efforts with respect to our 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, we are unable to contact the owners unless allowed by law. We believe these exit firms have encouraged such owners to become delinquent and ultimately default on their obligations and that such actions and our inability to contact the owners are a primary contributor to the increase in our annual default rates. Our average annual default rates have increased from 6.9% in 2015 to 9.3% in 2020. We also estimate that approximately 10.0% of the total delinquencies on our VOI notes receivable as of March 31, 2020 related to VOI notes receivable subject to this issue. We have in a number of cases pursued, and we may in the future pursue, legal action against the VOI owners, and as described below, against the exit firms.
On December 21, 2018, we filed a lawsuit against timeshare exit firm Totten Franqui and certain of its affiliates (“TPEs”). In the complaint, we alleged that the TPEs, through various forms of deceptive advertising, as well as inappropriate direct contact with VOI owners, made false statements about us and provided misleading information to the VOI owners. The TPEs have encouraged nonpayment by consumers and exacted fees for doing so. We believe the consumers are paying fees to the TPEs in exchange for illusory services. We have 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. We have reached settlements with the TPE principals and the bankruptcy trustee, and the paperwork is being finalized. The contemplated settlement 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 VOI exit space.
On November 13, 2019, we filed a lawsuit against timeshare exit firm The Montgomery Law Firm and certain of its affiliates (also included in “TPEs”). In the complaint, we 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 us, provided misleading information to the VOI owners and encouraged nonpayment by consumers. We believe the consumers are paying fees to the TPEs in exchange for illusory services. We have 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.
The entire disclosure for commitments and contingencies.
Reference 1: http://fasb.org/us-gaap/role/ref/legacyRef