Old White Charities files counterclaim in hole-in-one suit

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By Sarah Mansheim

Old White Charities Inc. has filed a countersuit against the underwriters who are refusing to pay for two hole-in-one shots at this year’s Greenbrier Classic golf tournament.

On Sept. 11, Old White Charities Inc., the nonprofit, financial arm of The Greenbrier Classic, filed a motion to dismiss and a counterclaim against the companies who claimed in a lawsuit that the 18th hole of the Old White TPC fell short of the minimum requirement of 170 yards.

When two golfers, George McNeill and Justin Thomas, hit holes-in-one on the 18th Hole during the PGA golf tournament at The Greenbrier, Greenbrier owner and chairman Jim Justice handed out one hundred dollar bills to spectators as part of the Hole-In-One Fan Jackpot. According to the suit, Justice handed out $192,000 in cash.

Talbot 2002 Underwriting Capital Ltd., White Mountains Re Sirius Capital Ltd., and Markel Capital Ltd. then filed a suit stating the insurance contract used to cover the claim was void because the distance between the pin and the hole on the 18th hole was shorter than the 170 yards required by the contract. The suit also claimed that Old White Charities did not pay their insurance premium.

Old White Charities’ counter claim, filed by The Masters Law Firm in Charleston, says that the insurance application specifically stated that the pins would be set by PGA officials every morning of the tournament and that “the insured has no idea nor will have any influence as to where the pins will be set.”

The countersuit also states that, according to the official scorecard of previous years, including 2014, the 18th hole was 175 yards.

Also, according to the countersuit, Old White Charities did pay the required insurance premium, claiming that a check in the amount of $112,684.18 was issued to Bankers Insurance on June 29, 2015. Bankers then forwarded a check to the underwriters on July 7; payment was posted on July 15, five days before the due date, the countersuit says.

The countersuit states that, therefore, the underwriters “wrongfully and unlawfully denied coverage and refused to pay the claim.”

The countersuit further states that the allegations against Old White Charities, and by default The Greenbrier and Justice, have led to “defamatory articles in the press and social media, including newspaper and media stories,” causing financial damage to The Greenbrier and to its chairman.

Old White Charities is seeking punitive damages for the alleged defamation along with compensatory damages along with other costs.