MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A billionaire who owns a Myrtle Beach resort is accused of stealing money from hundreds of his employees.
And late Monday afternoon there was a big development in the case against David Siegel.
There was a settlement offer to the people who worked for the "Timeshare King" at Westgate Resorts on Ocean Boulevard. But those employees say they're still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Siegel and his timeshare company, Central Florida Investments or CFI, were able to turn what was supposed to be the beginning of a week- long trial, into a settlement hearing.
Siegel's attorneys are now offering $500,000 to the agents, not the $600,000 that would have satisfied the previous settlement. Judy Parker is the named plaintiff on this suit and one of the first to let the judge know her take on it.
"Three years ago on the eve of trail," Parker told Judge Michael Baxley, "The defendants offered a settlement which we learned later was their idea of a joke. So, here we are back again, yet again on the eve of trial now we have another settlement which I just find it quite amazing that for some unknown reason these companies have no interest in having the light of day come to this."
Still, Parker is willing to go along with it again, knowing it'll pay pennies on the dollar for what she says Siegel stole.
"So we now are getting something like 48 cents on the dollar," Parker says. "The company took money that was ours. That's called theft. It's called stealing."
After Parker, one by one, the two dozen former Westgate Resort employees told the judge how they would side on the offer. The overwhelming majority, worn down and ready to put the whole thing behind them said they would accept. But make no mistake, there are still plenty of hold outs.
Kitra Pugh is one of them. "I don't wish to settle because you know, if there's a statute that protects us from having our wages taken by an employer, then enforce it. Do something about it. Make an example out of them."
The offer also would end the right to sue David Siegel and prohibit anyone from saying a another bad thing about Siegel or his interests. It would also give Siegel an extra 40 days to hold onto the money in case one of the timeshare agents chose to go after him individually. All of this is unacceptable to the agent's attorney's.
But for them, this is still a no comments case.
David Canty; 25:22 "There's clearing a split among the plaintiffs," attorney, David Canty said. "And it's for that reason that Mr. Connell and I cannot take a position one way or the other as far as the settlement offer is concerned."
As for David Siegel's team of lawyers, they had nothing to add.
For most of these former timeshare agents here, worn out seemed to be an understatement.
"I'm a homeless (person)," another former employee told the judge. "I lost my son over this, ok? I lost time with him. I think everyone in the courtroom, everyone in this action, they all have similar stories."
"If it was David Siegel's intent to play a waiting game with these 300 or so timeshare agents in hopes of bringing that class action settlement down a bit, it was clear today he has worn these folks down a bit. Will they accept this latest offer?
We'll find out for sure once the judge sets a date on a final hearing. During that next and final hearing, the judge in the case wants to hear from as many plaintiffs as possible to get their opinion on the settlement.
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