Trump Taj Mahal
In March, a New Jersey
appellate court ruled that Trump Resorts must pay more than
$200,000 to a company for a 2001 holiday banquet gone awry at
Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal.
Onyx Acceptance Corp., an automobile
finance company that is now owned by Capital One, booked a banquet
hall and 60 guest rooms for a customer-
appreciation banquet at the Trump property in December 2001. But on
the day of the event, the hotel failed to provide nearly half of
the rooms guaranteed by the contract. Guests were turned away at
check-in because the hotel was significantly overbooked.
Onyx’s Noelle Weinman, who organized
the event, called the scene that day “a complete nightmare, chaos,”
according to the court opinion. In testimony, Weinman alleged that
the hotel agreed to put up guests at other area hotels only after
several hours of arguing.
According to court records, when
Weinman emphasized that Onyx had prepaid nearly $30,000 for the
event, a front desk clerk responded, “Ma’am, we have people who
spent $30,000 a hand.”
For its part, Trump argued that the
term “guaranteed” meant only that the hotel would not cancel any
reservations until the morning after the day of arrival. Guests
weren’t guaranteed a room, said the hotel, because only “the
reservation, not the room” actually was promised.
Describing this interpretation as
“Orwellian,” the court found Trump in violation of New Jersey’s
Consumer Fraud Act, in part because the hotel never previously
shared its definition of “guaranteed” with Onyx.
The decision upheld a 2006 ruling that
awarded $89,000 to Onyx, which was triple the cost of the deposit.
Trump also was ordered to pay legal fees of approximately $90,000,
plus nearly $33,000 in additional costs.