Annual report pursuant to Section 13 and 15(d)

Commitments And Contingencies

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Commitments And Contingencies
12 Months Ended
Dec. 31, 2019
Commitments And Contingencies [Abstract]  
Commitments And Contingencies 12. 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 each commencing in 2020. We accrued for the net present value of the above amounts, plus attorneys’ fees and costs, totaling approximately $39.1 million, which is reflected in selling, general, and administrative expenses in our consolidated statement of operations for the year ended December 31, 2019. As of December 31, 2019, $17.9 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 December 31, 2019.

As of December 31, 2019, Bluegreen sold vacation packages in 68 Bass Pro retail stores and 15 Cabela’s retail stores. During the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, VOI sales to prospects and leads generated by the agreement with Bass Pro accounted for approximately 13% and 14%, respectively, of our VOI sales volume.

In December 2019, our President and Chief Executive Officer resigned. In connection with his resignation, we agreed to make payments totaling $3.5 million over a period of 18 months, all of which remained payable as of December 31, 2019. Additionally, during 2019, we entered into certain agreements with 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 December 31, 2019, $2.3 million remained payable under these agreements. As of December 31, 2018, $2.8 million remained payable in connection with other executive retirements that occurred in 2017 and 2018.

In lieu of paying maintenance fees for unsold VOI inventory, we may enter into subsidy agreements with certain HOAs. During the years ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017, we made subsidy payments related to such subsidies of $24.9 million, $12.6 million, and $12.6 million, respectively, which are included within cost of other fee-based services. As of December 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018, 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, inquiries and orders from governmental, 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.

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 August 24, 2016, Whitney Paxton and Jeff Reeser filed a lawsuit against Bluegreen Vacations Unlimited, Inc. (“BVU”), our wholly-owned subsidiary, 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. The court approved the settlement and dismissed the case with prejudice on May 9, 2019. 

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 our attorneys’ fees. Plaintiffs have filed a notice to appeal the summary judgment order.

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 sought 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. Plaintiffs seek 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, 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. We have filed a motion to dismiss which is pending. We have agreed to indemnify Bass Pro with respect to the claims brought against us in this proceeding. We believe the lawsuit is without merit and intend to vigorously defend the action.

On March 15, 2018,  BVU entered into an Agreement for Purchase and Sale of Assets with T. Park Central, LLC, O. Park Central, LLC, and New York Urban Ownership Management, LLC, (collectively “New York Urban”) (“Purchase and Sale Agreement”), which provides for the purchase of The Manhattan Club inventory over a number of years and the assumption of  the management contract with The Manhattan Club HOA anticipated to occur in 2021.  On October 7, 2019, New York Urban initiated arbitration proceedings against BVU alleging that The Manhattan Club HOA (of which BVU is a member) was obligated to pay an increased management fee to a New York Urban affiliate and that this higher amount would be the benchmark for BVU’s purchase of the management contract under the parties’ Purchase and Sale Agreement.  New York Urban also saught damages in the arbitration proceedings in excess of $10 million for promissory estoppel and tortious interference.  BVU denied New York Urban’s claims and terminated the Purchase and Sale Agreement and the related Security Agreement for, among other things, prematurely initiating arbitration in violation of the Purchase and Sale Agreement. On November 25, 2019, New York Urban sent its own Notice of Termination and a separate letter containing an offer to compromise if BVU resigns its position on the Manhattan Club HOA board and permits New York Urban to enforce its rights under the Security Agreement. On November 29, 2019, BVU accepted the offer. BVU has provided New York Urban with resignations of its members on the Board of Directors consistent with the parties’ settlement agreement. BVU believes it has fulfilled all of its legal obligations under the settlement terms offered.

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 their 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 8.7% in 2019. We also estimate that approximately 12.6% of the total delinquencies on our VOI notes receivable as of December 31, 2019 related to VOI notes receivable are 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 in certain circumstances 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. The bankruptcy judge has appointed an independent trustee to handle the estate of the debtors and we have been in discussions with the bankruptcy trustee about a possible settlement. We intend to assert all of our legal rights in the bankruptcy case.

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 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.