Lawsuits involve tales of fraudulent sales tactics
Hilton Head’s Island Packet newspaper continues to report on approximately sixty state and federal lawsuits pitting disgruntled consumer purchaser plaintiffs against The Coral Sands Resort timeshare project on Pope Avenue in Hilton Head. The cases have been weaving their way through the court systems for three years.
The lawsuits involve tales of fraudulent tactics by timeshare salesmen, such as promises of extra weeks in related projects that never materialize, promises of waived maintenance fees that never materialize, a pattern of baiting-and-switching units, promises that the developer will purchase timeshare units owned by the consumers in other projects as a sort of trade in, and sales of weeks that are available only every other year or every third year as if they were available every year. In short, the purchasers claim they were misled by sales pitches, and the documents they received did not reflect what had been told.
Most recently, Dan Burley reported on July 1 that two out-of-state couples received full refunds through arbitration. These two decisions are the first rulings in the various cases.
According to the July 1 article, separate arbitrators voided the couples’ contracts and ordered refunds because the contracts were determined to have violated aspects of the South Carolina Timeshare Act.
But the relief the consumers had requested went far beyond the refund of several thousand dollars. One of the cases was arbitrated by Hilton Head lawyer Curtis Coltrane. His twelve-page Award was attached to the news report and discussed allegations of common law fraud, negligent misrepresentation, civil conspiracy and Unfair Trade Practices, among others. All of those claims were dismissed for lack of evidence. The arbitrator stated that the plaintiffs were intelligent individuals who should have been able to ascertain the contents of the documents by reading them.
The second suit was arbitrated by Florence lawyer Richard L. Hinson with a similar result. As in the first case, all claims were dismissed except for the causes of action for Violation of the South Carolina Timeshare Act, in Mr. Hinson’s two-page award.
Representatives of the project are quoted as saying that thousands of customers are pleased with their Coral Resorts experience, and that owners who suffer from buyers’ remorse can ask for a refund within five days of signing the contract.
Mr. Burley’s previous articles in The Island Packet provide additional detail. I recommend the previous …and future articles on this litigation for interesting reading!