A federal judge denied Planet Fitness' arbitration request over a proposed class action regarding the company's alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), according to documents filed with the District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The proposed lawsuit will go to court on behalf of the original plaintiff and thousands of Planet Fitness members who he claims to represent.
Plaintiff Jonnathan Ramos, a Planet Fitness member from 2015 to 2018, is alleging that Planet Fitness' automated text messages caused him actual harm, including invasion of his privacy, aggravation, annoyance, intrusion on seclusion, trespass, conversion, inconvenience and disruption to his daily life.
After cancelling his membership, Ramos received the following automated text message on Aug. 10, 2018: "Planet Fitness: JONNATHAN! We're making it easier than ever to come back to PF. For a limited time you can rejoin for $1 Down and get ONE MONTH FREE. Use promo code BACK2PF10 for our classic membership or BACK2PFBC for the PF Black Card! Text STOP to opt-out or HELP for help. Rejoin Now."
Ramos filed his lawsuit on Aug. 23, 2018, arguing that the Aug. 10 text message violated the TCPA. Planet Fitness attempted to compel arbitration via the arbitration clause in the membership agreement Ramos signed in 2015. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Alicia M. Otazo-Reyes said Ramos was no longer bound by the agreement, according to court documents.
In her ruling, Otazo-Reyes cited a precedent established in a 2018 federal appeals case, "Gamble v. New Eng. Auto Fin., Inc.," and said the Aug. 10 text message relates to "post-agreement conduct."
Reyes states: "Here, neither the Agreement nor the Arbitration Provision contemplates future TCPA claims; thus, as in Gamble, the Text Consent Provision constitutes a 'separate stand-alone provision.' Therefore, Plaintiff's claim 'arises not from the [Agreement] or any breach of it, but 'from post-agreement conduct that allegedly violates a separate, distinct federal law.'"
She continues: "Here, the 'post-agreement conduct' was the sending of the Text Message, an action that occurred after the Agreement had been terminated by Plaintiff. Because the Text Consent Provision was not part of the Agreement, and the Text Message constituted post-agreement conduct, Plaintiff's TCPA claim is not arbitrable pursuant to the Arbitration Provision."
A court date has not been set for Ramos' proposed class action suit.
Several health clubs have already been caught up in TCPA lawsuits in recent years, including Gold’s Gym, 24 Hour Fitness, Town Sports International, Workout World, Crunch Fitness and Life Time, the latter of which settled its case for $15 million.