CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Homeowners at the Glade Springs resort are suing a board of directors that was set up when Jim Justice became the lead investor there years before being elected as West Virginia’s governor.
The property owners say financial questions that arose under the board of directors set up by Justice Holdings have never been answered.
Glade Springs is a resort but also a planned community. Common properties including roads, the lake and the golf courses, are the property of the homeowners association.
What Justice gained in 2010 was the position of “declarant,” a development role in planned communities that comes with special rights.
One of the steps was setting up a board of directors with three members who have remained closely associated with Justice.
As financial circulations grew among the other homeowners, particularly in recent years, they ousted the Justice-appointed board and put in their own.
The Glade Springs Village Property Owners Association filed suit this week in circuit court in Raleigh County.
Lawyer Mark Sadd, representing the property owners, declined to elaborate on the lawsuit. A public relations firm representing Justice companies was invited to comment but has not. Justice Holdings is not a defendant in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit was filed against board members Elmer Coppoolse, James Miller and Elaine Butler.
Coppoolse is the chief operating officer of The Greenbrier Resort, another Justice property. He is also general manager of Glade Springs Resort.
Miller is vice president of operations for The Greenbrier Hotel Corp. He is also listed as treasurer for Justice’s re-election campaign.
Butler has been chief financial officer for Justice Holdings.
They were among those named earlier this year in a federal subpoena asking the state Department of Commerce for any communications related to The Greenbrier, its annual pro golf tournament or its charitable arm.
There is no known link between the subpoena and the lawsuit against the Glade Springs board of directors.
The dispute between property owners and the board of directors has been simmering for more than a year before finally popping into the court system.
Justice and his family acquired the lead development role in the golf resort community and its thousands of acres in 2010. Glade Springs has 750 private residences.
“This is a good day,” Justice said then. “If you could really get into my heart and into my mind, you’d understand.”
Justice Holdings appointed Coppoolse, Miller and Butler to serve as the board of directors of the Glade Springs Village Property Owners Association.
The lawsuit contends that Coppoolse dominated the board, with Miller and Butler failing to exercise independent judgment on behalf of the homeowners.
Under agreements to collect fees from resort guests who were using golf facilities at Glade Springs, property owners contend they never received a proper accounting.
Similarly, under lease agreements for a pro shop and food and beverage facilities for the Woodhaven Golf Course, the property owners never got a full accounting of finances, the lawsuit states.
The property owners also wound up in a dispute with the board over the responsibility for $14 million in development and upkeep costs for the resort.
As a result, the property owners association “was and continues to be deprived of substantial and material monies that it could have and should have used to benefit GSVPOA and to maintain common elements.”
In 2018, the property owners got fed up and challenged the right of the board of directors to be named on behalf of EMCO Glade Springs Hospitality, the corporation led by Coppoolse.
This past May was the first election by members for an independent board of directors. The prior board of directors was ousted.
The property owners want the court to order a special accountant to look into the financial situation at Glade Springs.
And the property owners want to know whether Coppoolse, Miller and Butler acted or failed to act in the best interests of the homeowners association and whether they breached their fiduciary duties.
The lawsuit also asks for compensatory damages, as well as the possibility of punitive damages.