Class action filed against Bally's and LA Fitness over lifetime membership promise

By Jon Campisi | Jan 25, 2012

A Philadelphia man has filed a class action lawsuit against LA Fitness, alleging the company, which last year purchased Bally Total Fitness, has refused to honor lifetime memberships held by former Bally’s members.

The complaint, which seeks class action certification, was filed Jan. 18 at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court by New Jersey attorney Mark S. Guralnick.

The main plaintiff is West Philadelphia resident Blaise Tobia. There are also 41 co-plaintiffs named in the suit.

According to the complaint, Bally Total Fitness International sold its assets relating to 171 or more of its clubs and fitness centers to LA Fitness International in 2011.

In effectuating the transfer of the assets, Bally’s closed its gyms and transferred the memberships of thousands of its members to LA Fitness.

The membership transfer, however, was in violation of the contracts Bally had signed with many of its members, who pre-paid for lifetime memberships, the lawsuit claims.

The complaint alleges that along with refusing to honor the terms of the lifetime memberships, LA Fitness has refused to match the terms of the membership contracts signed by Bally’s members without additional conditions, commitments or costs, and failed to accommodate Bally’s members at their clubs.

The suit accuses Bally’s of continuing to sell annual memberships and other long-term contracts without any warning of the “imminent closing” of their health clubs and “misleading and defrauding their soon-to-be-displaced members.”

The complaint also alleges that Bally’s has failed and refused to refund membership fees to compensate members for the unusable portions of their contracts.

The lawsuit seeks damages, injunctive relief and declaratory relief on behalf of the class members, which it says are more than 1,000 Bally’s members throughout the country who maintained active memberships at one or more of the Bally Fitness Center locations and are now unable to use their memberships at LA Fitness locations.

The lawsuit said the actions of the defendants violated the Pennsylvania Health Club Services Act, the New York Health Club Services Act, McKinney’s General Business Law, the Illinois Physical Fitness Services Act, and other similar health club laws across the country.

The lawsuit contains counts of false and fraudulent transactions, unjust enrichment, deceptive trade practices, negligence and gross negligence, breach of contract and fraud and constructive fraud.

In addition to injunctive, declaratory and compensatory relief, the class members also seek punitive damages and other equitable and legal relief.

A jury trial has been demanded.

The case ID number is 120102129.

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