A U.S. District Court judge in New Jersey has approved a settlement agreement between LA Fitness, Irvine, CA, and the plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit who will receive 45-day passes and other refunds after they alleged they were charged for dues beyond the cancellation of their memberships.
The agreement was signed May 28 by Judge William Walls in United States District Court, District of New Jersey. The case, Martina v. LA Fitness International LLC, involved Sophia Martina and other similarly situated plaintiffs.
In addition to a 45-day pass to LA Fitness, Martina and other plaintiffs will receive a check equal to 1/3 of one month's dues, will have the option to receive either two free personal training sessions or a $100 credit applied to a new membership, and legal and administrative fees stemming from the lawsuit, according to the settlement agreement.
LA Fitness declined to comment on the case to Club Industry. The settlement agreement was first reported by Law360.com.
Martina signed an LA Fitness membership in February 2008 but decided to cancel three months later, according to court documents. Because Martina's notice of cancellation was not postmarked 30 days prior to the next billing date, she was charged for an additional month of membership. Also, since her last month's membership was prepaid when she signed in February, her extended membership lasted through Aug. 27, 2008, three months after she decided to cancel.
Martina filed a lawsuit against LA Fitness, alleging the company violated the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act, including the Health Club Services Act, and the Truth-in-Consumer Contract, Warranty and Notice Act, according to court documents. The case was removed to U.S. District Court on April 5, 2012.
LA Fitness' cancellation policy, as outlined in court documents, states that notices must be mailed to the company. Martina claimed that members cannot cancel by phone, online or in person at the club in which they joined.
In denying LA Fitness's motion to dismiss the case, Walls wrote on Sept. 4, 2012, "In this day and age, narrowly restricting the mode of cancellation in such a manner suggests an intent to place barriers in the process."
Members of the class-action lawsuit will have 35 days to file objections to the settlement. A fairness hearing will be held on Sept. 17 in which Walls could give his final approval to the settlement.
According to Law360.com, an LA Fitness settlement of three other recent class-action lawsuits provided only the 45-day passes to members in any states except New Jersey, California and Pennsylvania. Those three states have their own pending cases, Law360.com reports.