Club Exploria, LLC, domiciled in Florida, agreed to pay Florida attorney Austin Aaronson, of Aaronson Law Firm, $175,000 in attorney fees following the conclusion of a lawsuit Case No. 6:18-cv-00576-JA-DCI. Club Exploria alleged tortious interference in a contractual relationship. The courts determined that there was insufficient evidence to show that Aaronson intentionally influenced Club Exploria owners to cease meeting their timeshare debt and maintenance fee obligations.
Timeshare Developers have waged war with more than a few attorneys. While some attorneys have displayed questionable business practices, Developers seem to think no one should retain even a reputable law firm, like Aaronson Law Firm, when disputing a timeshare contract.
As I listened to the March 8th Oral Arguments at the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, Florida, it seemed patience was wearing thin among the three appellate court judges: As has become apparent in this District, few parties are as adversarial – or as litigious – as timeshare developers and timeshare exit companies.
Judge Tjoflat brought up a Common Law stating that any party has a right to breach a contract if they understand the risks and benefits of doing so: Assuming without deciding that Florida law authorizes a tortious interference claim against a lawyer based on his advice to a client, the mere fact a person hires a lawyer to assist him (or her) with a disputed contractual obligation and then breaches that disputed contractual obligation is insufficient to establish that the lawyer intentionally procured the breach.
“Generally, the timeshare developers in these cases are substantially larger than the timeshare exit companies. Here, Plaintiffs (Club Exploria) are a sizable timeshare developer; Defendants are a small law firm and its named partner that employ “at most, four attorneys licensed to practice in the state of Florida at any given time.” This disparity creates some risk that a timeshare developer (or multiple timeshare developers) may weaponize ultimately meritless litigation to pressure a specific timeshare exit company—which may be operating legally—out of business.”
Two examples of why timeshare members reach out to exit companies and attorneys – former Exploria owner Dorothy in Florida and a New York Exploria buyer currently in default:
Dorothy, age 90, living in Independent Living, had repeatedly attempted release from her Club Exploria timeshare. Unable to drive, Dorothy had not used her timeshare in years. In 2019 she contacted an exit company that referred Dorothy to our nonprofit, staffed by volunteers. Dorothy explained that she broke her jaw in three places after a fall. Medicare did not pay to have her jaw wired so she could not afford her maintenance fees. I contacted Exploria and explained Dorothy’s hardship. They said they would need to talk to Dorothy directly. When I called Dorothy a few days later, she said they would not release her because she spoke with Irene Parker! I contacted Exploria infuriated. They hung up on me. Dorothy called me a few minutes later with the news, “Exploria said they would release me!”
I refer to timeshare brokers who do not charge an upfront fee to sell a timeshare. None wanted to accept a listing to sell Dorothy’s timeshare, explaining that there is a glut of unwanted timeshares, especially in Florida.
“Find a buyer” is a “shoo-away-the-fly” response from developers who will not allow a timeshare owner a release under any circumstances.
M.B. in New York
M. B. is currently battling Club Exploria. She asked not to be identified for fear of further harassment. M. B. is one of a multitude of timeshare buyers who say they were assured by their timeshare sales agent that they could rent out their timeshare to cover the cost of the timeshare.
Exploria’s contract states that the purchaser can rent, so there are no safeguards to protect the consumer from this false claim. Renting to cover the cost of a timeshare is unfeasible for the average timeshare buyer.
According to M. B.
We only used our 2 BR Tree Tops Resort timeshare once after we purchased it in Pennsylvania in 2015. The sales presentation lasted six hours. Our baby was crying as we tried to follow what the agents proposed.
Within the 10-day cancellation period, I called and said I wanted to cancel. They invited us to come to a meeting to discuss it. We did not attend the meeting until July 16, 2019, after the rescission period had expired. They convinced my husband to upgrade by converting to points, as I took care of our baby.
The sales agents specifically said, “This will give you more options so that if you can’t use it, you can rent it out, and we will help you do this.” This happened before Exploria bought our resort.
I stopped payments in October of 2022. The cost to upgrade was $12,420. We financed $11,612.20 at 11.99%. Our current loan balance is approximately $6000. I sent certified letters to seven Exploria addresses and also emailed to notify them that we were going to stop paying. Club Exploria only offered to modify the loan.
I’ve been receiving harassing calls. Usually, I’m driving, which is distracting and dangerous. The caller calls five or six times in a day. When I answer they hang up. When I return the phone call, it is Exploria. I felt they were in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in that they would call repeatedly and then hang up.
Federal law doesn’t give a specific limit on the number of calls a debt collector can place. However, a debt collector may not call you repeatedly or continuously intending to annoy, abuse, or harass you or others who share the number. According to Exploria, there is no limit on the number of collection calls, but after I complained, the volume of calls decreased.
Exploria, in their response to the Florida Attorney General, stated that we could sell our timeshare. That is impossible with a loan.
Mesha from Exploria texted my husband on October 5, 2022, saying that she wanted to talk to us about some options. I called her back to ask what the options were. She said, “This is it. You’re not going to get out of this.”
The Florida Attorney General was of no help, despite the fact that the contract I signed had nothing in it to protect us from the false claim that you can rent out the timeshare to pay for the timeshare. The Exploria contract states: “The buyer has the right to temporarily rent the Exploria vacation…”
On 9/20/22 someone from Exploria called from phone number 321-342-8961. He confirmed that on May 2nd I was offered a settlement. I did not get the representative’s name for either call, but they say calls are recorded. If you dispute a timeshare contract, it’s important to keep a call log.
Timeshares sold deceptively leave people with no choice but to default. I filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission about the credit reporting agencies reporting inaccurate information since there was nothing in the contract to prevent being deliberately driven to default.
Club Exploria LLC v Aaronson Law Firm, March 11, 2022
As reported by the Timeshare Law Library
Three Court of Appeals judges denied Club Exploria’s request for a retrial, affirming a summary judgment issued by the Middle District of Florida Court, that was summarily dismissed in federal court, in a ruling that was affirmed on appeal.
The agreement comes after a judge recommended that the presiding judge grant the law firm’s prevailing party fee motion.
“This is very gratifying. It is a small measure of vindication for all our efforts” said Attorney Aaronson. Club Exploria, LLC, is a member of ARDA, a consortium of timeshare developers behind the many lawsuits filed nationwide against qualified law firms representing timeshare owners. The Aaronson Law Firm has represented aggrieved timeshare owners for over a decade.
Other complaints about being promised the ability to rent
Westgate Resorts contracts state that the purchaser can rent. Orlando Sentinel reported on a January 5th protest staged by Westgate Owners who say they were told they could rent to cover costs. A Public Records Request produced 584 Westgate complaints, with nearly half being about the ability to rent to offset costs.
Rental Platforms (check with your resort to make sure renting is allowed)
Can and Should You Rent Out Your Timeshare?
The Turning Tide
Thank you, Irene, looking at all of the recent reports on the numerous court cases involving exit firms and lawyers, it is becoming evident that judges are starting to take the plight of consumers seriously. The developers are holding members, hostage, by attempting to deny them independent professional and legal help they are taking away any rights they have as consumers. Developers have created this situation through their incessant greed and refusal to allow people an easy exit from their contracts, especially when there is evidence of wrongdoing in the sales process.
In Spain we also witnessed the attitude of the judges change during the early years, we also see it today with the appeals by the timeshare industry, most don’t even get accepted let alone heard. The sway their smooth talking highly paid lawyers used to have, doesn’t cut any ice with the judges today, as far as they are concerned, they did not follow the law and must now pay the price. The timeshare industry in Spain and across Europe is paying that price, nobody trusts them or their product, hence the closure and liquidation of the many sales companies and sales decks. They failed to heed the lessons.
The unfortunate thing in Europe is the development of the “exit & claims” industry, with many false promises of an early and trouble-free exit along with a substantial cash award, needless to say, 98% of these offers are just scams to get your money. It is also a fact that many of these companies have been organised by ex-timeshare sales staff and managers, all using data probably illegally obtained, and then sold to others. Timeshare is an industry like no other, it is full of promises and is constantly finding new ways to get your money, resulting in the spin-off industry of exits & claims and resale scams. A cycle that seems to have no end.
That is it for this week, we hope you all have a great weekend, it looks like the weather here will be good as we have had some heavy rain. This didn’t go down too well with “Baby Dog” as he was confined to quarters.