Urban Active Faces Multiple Lawsuits

Urban Active, Lexington, KY, not only faces multiple lawsuits, but the Better Business Bureau assigned it an “F” rating due to allegations of unfair and deceptive business practices.

A class-action lawsuit was filed in Cuyahoga County (OH) Common Pleas Court by James DeRoche and David Krause of Seaman Garson LLC, a law firm based in Cleveland. The lawsuit, Robbins v. Global Fitness Holdings LLC d.b.a Urban Active Fitness, claims that Urban Active violates consumer protection laws and its own contracts. In short, the lawsuit claims that Urban Active says members are allowed to cancel their contracts, but when the members attempt to do so, Urban Active refuses cancellation and continues to charge them membership fees.

The class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ohio resident Phillip Robbins in mid-April, around the time of another lawsuit filed in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, Columbus, OH. That lawsuit, filed on behalf of Ohio residents Edward Lundberg and Terry Troutman against Global Fitness Holdings, claims Urban Active breached its contract and violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act.

Lundberg claims that when he attempted to transfer his membership from one Urban Active club to another after his 18-month contract had expired, he was still being charged by his old club in addition to his new club. Urban Active has not remedied the situation, according to the complaint.

Troutman claims that Urban Active deducted late payments of $20 from his credit account on three separate occasions without his authorization or permission. Troutman says Urban Active has remedied one of the payments by crediting him with a future payment, which Troutman claims is not permitted under the terms of the contract. Urban Active has not responded to the other two payments in question, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit, filed by the law firm of Isaac, Brant, Ledman and Teetor LLP, Columbus, OH, seeks class-action status for all members who claim they have been unlawfully billed by Global Fitness Holdings from March 27, 2000, to the present. Prior to operating Urban Active clubs, Global Fitness Holdings operated Gold’s Gyms under the direction of former Gold’s franchisee Royce Pulliam, now CEO of Urban Active.

Another lawsuit was filed last month in Franklin County (OH) Common Pleas Court on behalf of Ohio residents Amber Gascho, Ashley Buckenmeyer and Michael Hogan and all other similarly situated plaintiffs. Gascho, Buckenmeyer and Hogan claim Urban Active violated the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act and the Ohio deceptive trade practices act and breached its contract. The plaintiffs, represented by the law firm of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, Columbus, OH, are seeking an award of damages of more than $25,000. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status for all Ohio Urban Active members who purchased membership contracts from Nov. 1, 2007, to the present.

In a statement, Urban Active says it is taking these three recent lawsuits seriously and is “fully prepared to vigorously defend” what it believes to be meritless cases.

“These lawsuits are based on contractual disagreements which does not mean ‘unfair and deceptive business practices’ as is alleged,” Urban Active says in the statement. “Everyone has the right to dispute signed agreements, but using the terms ‘unfair and deceptive practices’ loosely without proper factual basis is simply wrong.”

Urban Active adds that due to pending litigation, it will not comment further.

A separate lawsuit that was filed last December in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, has now come to light. That lawsuit, filed by Bogart and Reese LLC, claims Urban Active violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. Carol Shultz, and her daughter, Amy, who both use wheelchairs, also claim that Urban Active used fraud in inducing them to join. Carol Shultz says Urban Active told her the two-story club they joined would have an elevator, but it does not.

The Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio recently gave Urban Active an “F” rating, saying it has received more than 200 complaints from Ohio Urban Active members within the last year. Of those complaints, 78 of them were either unanswered or unresolved, as Urban Active did not respond to written requests for explanation, the BBB said.

Similar to the lawsuits, most of the complaints the BBB has received deal with billing issues. Specifically, members have complained that Urban Active continued to charge their bank accounts or credit cards after the members believed that their contracts had expired or had been canceled.

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