PITTSBURGH - On Sept. 27, LA Fitness asked the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania to toss out a negligence case against it after a pool worker sued with complaints that he was exposed to toxic chemicals.
Charles H. Carter initially filed his suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on April 15, 2019. LA Fitness then filed a notice of removal to the current court on Sept. 23. Now, it hopes the court will dismiss the case altogether. It filed the motion to dismiss via its counsel Rawle & Henderson, LLP.
LA Fitness argued that Carter failed to state a claim where relief can actually be provided and failed to include an indispensable party via Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(7).
“Plaintiff alleges ‘nearly the entirety of plaintiff’s work’ for American Pool was performed at [LA Fitness’s] premises: therefore implying that some portion of plaintiff’s work was performed elsewhere,” according to the motion. The defendants argued that parties who oversee the other locations where Carter worked should also be included in the lawsuit.
The fitness center said that Carter’s request for punitive damages should also be dismissed, arguing Carter didn’t properly raise enough issues that would make him entitled to punitive damages. “The allegations against [LA Fitness] contained in plaintiff’s complaint do not include any actual ‘intentional,' ‘wanton,' ‘willful,' ‘malicious’ or ‘outrageous’ conduct necessary to support a claim for punitive damages, nor does the language in the complaint give rise to punitive damages,” the motion said.
Carter, who worked for American Pools Management from February 2009 to February 2011, often performed duties like maintaining and regulating water conditions at the LA Fitness swimming pool.
“During a significant portion of the time set forth above, while working at the premises as set forth above, plaintiff was exposed (to) the unsafe, humid working environment and did inhale mold and chemicals which caused the medical conditions and diseases... resulting in plaintiff’s injuries and impairment,” Carter's lawsuit said.
He alleged that LA Fitness should have been aware of the toxic chemicals that he was exposed to, and that he was entitled to a safe workplace that the gym should have provided for him. He described himself a “foreseeable victim,” and reiterated that it was LA Fitness’ responsibility to keep a safe work environment for employees and independent contractors.
He accused LA Fitness of being negligent in more ways than one: from not cautioning him about the risks at the pool to covering up mold that would otherwise be obviously hazardous and adding dangerous chemicals such as excess calcium hypochlorite chlorine tablets without Carter’s knowledge. Carter suffers from asthma, irritation in his lungs and airway, conjunctivitis, chest pains, anxiety, mental and emotional stress, and has trouble sleeping, exercising and even breathing, the lawsuit said.
LA Fitness took issue with allegations in the complaint such as “actively concealed,” “foreseeable victim," “failed to control the conduct of their employees or the employees of independent contractors” and other phrases like “willfully and wantonly” and “superior actual knowledge,” according to the motion.
Carter requested punitive damages and demanded a trial by jury. He is being represented by Pittsburgh law firm John J. Zagari & Associates.