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Court says Justice's company on its own for hole-in-one payments

Hole in one

Spectators sitting around the 18th green show off their new $100 bills for the hole-in-one made July 2, 2015, by George McNeill during the first round of the Greenbrier Classic golf tournament at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs.

A court opinion released Wednesday leaves Gov. Jim Justice’s company — not its insurer — on the hook for a $192,400 cash payout after what turned out to be two costly holes-in-one.

During the 2015 Greenbrier Classic golf tournament, Justice sprinkled fans with $100 and $500 cash offerings on the links after George McNeill and Justin Thomas each aced the 18th hole.

During the tournament, Justice promoted a “Hole-In-One Fan Jackpot,” promising if a golfer made a hole-in-one on the 18th green, fans seated in the grandstands would receive $100. For another hole-in-one, he’d pay $500, and for a third, $1000.

Old White Charities, a nonprofit associated with the tournament of which Justice controls, bought insurance on the chance of such payouts. However, the agreement states the policy required a minimum distance of 170 yards for insurers to cover the jackpot. The holes-in-one were made from a distance of 137 yards.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a district court ruling in a written opinion that said Justice’s company has to eat the costs of the payout on his own. The opinion states Old White Charities failed to show any disputes of fact, reasonable expectation of coverage, bad faith or breach of contract, negligence or fraud.

A spokesman for The Greenbrier resort could not be reached for this report.

According to filings with the Internal Revenue Service, Justice received more than $400,000 in reportable income from Old White Charities in 2015.

A tweet posted from the Greenbrier Classic’s account depicts a jolly Justice handing out crisp $100 bills.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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