The attorneys who represented Yvette Cormier in a transgender lawsuit naming Planet Fitness and Planet Fitness franchisee PF Fitness –Midland LLC as defendants have filed an appeal.
Kallman Legal Group filed the brief on appeal in the Michigan Court of Appeals on July 28 seeking a reversal of the circuit court's January decision to dismiss the lawsuit. The appeal claims the circuit court erroneously granted the defendants' motion for summary disposition, according to the filing. Planet Fitness does not comment on litigation as a matter of policy, company spokesperson McCall Gosselin told Club Industry on Thursday.
On Feb. 28, 2015, Cormier, a member of the Planet Fitness in Midland, Michigan, at that time, found a transgender woman, who was a guest at the gym, in the women's locker room. When Cormier complained to the front desk staff that a man was in the locker room, the staff told her that the person was transgender and the policy of the company is to allow transgender people to choose the locker room of the gender with which they self identify. Cormier allegedly told others about the policy, even after she was allegedly told to stop. Her membership was revoked for what Gosselin told Club Industry at the time of the lawsuit was the inappropriate and disruptive manner in which she expressed her concerns about the policy.
In March 2015, Cormier filed a lawsuit against the companies and amended it in June 2015. Judge Michael J. Beale of the 42nd Circuit Court of the County of Midland dismissed the case on Jan. 5 because he said Cormier did not prove any of the claims she made. Those claims included invasion of privacy, breach of membership contract, violation of Michigan Consumer Protection Act, violation of Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Cormier's attorneys wrote in the filing: "The heart of the problem with the Circuit Court’s reasoning is that it re-characterized a meaningless marketing slogan as a clear disclosure of an egregious privacy-invading policy." The Planet Fitness marketing slogan is "judgement free zone" (sic).
Cormier's attorneys argue that a women's locker room has always been a private place to be used exclusively by women, and the freedom from risk is rooted in American history and traditions.
"Despite this history, the Trial Court ruled that Mrs. Cormier should have known that the phrase 'judgment-free zone' put her on notice that she had consented to men viewing her as she disrobes and to men showering with her," Cormier's attorneys stated in the appeal filing. "Apparently Mrs. Cormier should have known that by signing the Planet Fitness membership agreement, which did not even discuss, much less define, a 'judgment-free zone,' she waived all of her rights and reasonable expectations to be able to use the locker room free from a man watching her. And the Trial Court held all these 'shoulds' were obvious as a matter of law, and that no reasonable jury could possibly find otherwise."
Cormier's attorneys allege the judgment-free zone slogan is "certainly unclear." The appeal states: "This begs the question, what exactly does Planet Fitness’ 'judgment-free zone' mean?"
The filing continues: "All that is actually clear is that it does not mean that customers will be free from Planet Fitness’ negative judgment when those customers take a stand for common decency and common sense. Whatever the slogan might mean, if anything, it is an amorphous phrase that discloses nothing meaningful and utterly fails to fulfill Defendants’ duties under the membership agreement and Michigan law. Further, it is completely disingenuous for Planet Fitness to characterize their stance as 'non-judgmental.' From the very beginning of this case, Defendants have sought to negatively judge Mrs. Cormier for simply not wanting to be forced to share a women’s locker room with a biological man."