The trial attorneys at Weir & Associates obtained a jury verdict on July 21, 2017 on behalf of their client against The Ridge at Back Brook, LLC.  Plaintiff claimed Defendant, The Ridge at Back Brook, LLC, an upscale country club in Ringoes, Hunterdon County, New Jersey, breached its membership agreement in a number of regards.  One of plaintiff’s claims was that The Ridge violated an unwritten term of the contract, the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.  “Every contract in New Jersey contains an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”  Sons of Thunder, Inc. v. Borden, Inc., 148 N.J. 396, 420 (1997).  Therefore, even if not expressly written in a contract, a party must act in a way that is honest and faithful to the agreed purposes of the contract and consistent with the reasonable expectations of the parties. The jury concluded by a 7-0 vote that the defendant’s actions violated this covenant.
After a five day jury trial in Mercer County, presided over by The Honorable Douglass Hurd, P.J.Cv., the jury found that The Ridge materially breached its contract with Plaintiff through three separate actions.  First, they changed their membership agreement with Plaintiff to alter the operation of a resignation list so that plaintiff’s position on the list could be changed.  Second, defendant added additional language that members could be put to the end of the resignation list if they did not timely pay dues.  The jury further found that the Ridge violated plaintiff’s membership agreement by holding a vote on the changes, even though the contractual language did not allow for a vote of members on such a change. 
The Ridge had previously successfully defended other aspects of the membership agreement or resolved claims prior to trial. The membership agreement had provisions reserving the right of defendant “at any time, and in its sole discretion, to modify or amend all or any of the terms and provisions of the plan.” Plaintiff was able to successfully overcome these broad powers given to defendant.  The matter was tried by managing partner John Weir and associate Jeff Dunn together with co-counsel Steve Janel.  Weir & Associates encourages prospective club members to have documents reviewed by counsel prior to committing to any long term contract.  For further questions or consultation, contact Weir & Associates.