Two members of New York Sports Clubs are suing its parent entity, Town Sports International Holdings Inc. (TSI), New York, over claims of unlawfully barring select members from its Elite-branded health clubs.
Carly Pisarri and Aubily Remus Jasmin on Feb. 1 filed a class action complaint in New York State Supreme Court, citing breach of contract and fraud.
Both hold "Passport Memberships" at New York Sports Clubs that, according to their complaint, are outwardly represented as providing members with "all access" to "any TSI club at any time." However, the complaint asserts that TSI currently bars Passport Members from its re-branded "Elite" and "Flagship" gyms in an "ill-advised effort to create a false appearance that these gyms are 'exclusive.'"
The complaint states: "TSI has done this in an attempt to generate more revenue by charging additional and/or premium fees for use of these locations. Unfortunately, while lying to consumers may sometimes be useful to TSI for creating additional revenue, it is unlawful."
TSI did not immediately respond to Club Industry's request for comment.
The plaintiffs are seeking a trial by jury, as well as declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief on behalf of themselves and the class of "hundreds of thousands of current and former TSI Passport Members" they represent, citing violations of General Business Law and consumer protection acts in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
“Town Sports International’s decision to brand certain clubs as ‘Elite,’ and deny entry to its Passport Members, shows complete disregard for the rights of its loyal, long-paying customers who were told they would have all-access to TSI’s gyms," David E. Gottlieb, partner at Wigdor LLP and legal counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a statement provided to Club Industry.
Pisarri and Jasmin have been Passport Members since 2001 and 2009, respectively. Approximately 45 percent, or 243,000 members, of TSI's current member base are Passport Members, according to the complaint.
Pisarri's membership contract states: "[I]f you have a Passport membership, you may use any TSI club at any time." Yet, the complaint lists seven TSI clubs that Passport Members are allegedly not allowed to use:
• New York Sports Club located at 4 Astor Place, New York
• New York Sports Club located at 30 Broad St., New York
• New York Sports Club located at 113 East 23rd St., New York
• New York Sports Club located at 1637 Third Ave. (91st St.), New York
• Boston Sports Club located at 100 Summer St., Boston
• Boston Sports Club gym located at 840 Winter St., Waltham, Massachusetts
• Boston Sports Club gym located at 140 Great Plain Ave., Wellesley, Massachusetts
"The Passport Membership is critical to TSI's business model, as the ability to upsell customers to the higher-priced membership provides for substantially increased revenue," the complaint states.
TSI, which is a public company, ranked No. 6 on Club Industry's Top 100 Health Clubs of 2017 with $396.92 million in 2016 revenue.