Vail, CO Colorado
Judge Christopher S. Sontchi punted the case to Colorado, where it landed before Judge Bruce Campbell in Denver’s federal bankruptcy court.
“The judge made the determination that this is where Cordillera’s past, present and future members are, so this where the case needs to be,” said Cheryl Foley, one of the lead plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit against Wilhelm and the Wilhelm Family Partnership.
Campbell held a status conference Friday afternoon to figure out what he has in front of him.
“Everything filed in Delaware has to be moved here,” Foley said.
Wilhelm’s Cordillera Golf Club LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month in Delaware, where the company is chartered.
“The Delaware judge’s ruling was meant to create an opportunity for meaningful discussions toward resolution between the club ownership group and its adversaries,” said Chris Celentino, the bankruptcy attorney representing Cordillera Golf Club. “I think the impetus is to encourage the debtor’s adversaries to take a more positive view toward working with the club to reach a productive resolution.”
In a related criminal matter, District Court Judge Frederick W. Gannett postponed Friday’s contempt of court hearing against Wilhelm. The hearing is tentatively set for Aug. 6 to 8.
Celentino and others with Cordillera have said the litigation against Wilhelm stems from a small and vocal minority.
But according to court documents, 623 people are eligible to be part of the group suing Wilhelm; 610 are officially in, and 13 have opted out.
It was 609 until Thursday, when one more person joined the class-action lawsuit.
“That’s not my definition of a small group of people. Characterizing this as a small group of unhappy members is delusional,” Foley said.
The Delaware bankruptcy trustee appointed a committee representing the unsecured creditors. That committee includes six club members, Foley among them, and two people from trade organizations.
“The bank and debtor have agreed to an interim financing agreement to provide more time to work out a long-term solution that will enable the club to restore itself,” Celentino said.
Wilhelm and the Wilhelm Family Partnership filed bankruptcy the day a $12.7 million loan was due to Alpine Bank. The bank has agreed to extend credit through the summer.
The Wilhelms and some Cordillera Club members have been locked in litigation for more than a year.
Last spring, Wilhelm promised to open all four Cordillera golf courses but opened only the Valley course and laid off dozens of workers. Some of the members — now 610, to be exact — sued him in a class-action lawsuit saying opening only the one course violated the membership agreement.
Their lawsuit asks that the $8 million in 2011 dues be repaid and that all the membership deposits be refunded — that could total $108 million.
Wilhelm sued them for $96 million, claiming they were trying to drive him out so they could take over.