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June 7, 2013 / Scott Tillett

LA Fitness May Not Get a “Free Pass” in New Jersey Consumer Class Action Settlement

New Jersey resident Sophia Martina filed a consumer class action lawsuit against LA Fitness International, LLC in 2012 for automatic renewal and improper collection of monthly membership dues in violation of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (NJSA 56:8-42). On May 29, 2013, Judge William A. Walls of the New Jersey District Court granted preliminary approval of the settlement between the parties.

According to the complaint, LA Fitness charged Martina an additional month’s dues after mailing written notice of cancellation because the letter was not postmarked 30 days prior to her next billing cycle. The complaint further alleged that LA Fitness extended Martina’s contract even further because she had paid her last month’s dues at the time of signing the membership contract.

New Jersey law contains specific provisions governing health club services which expressly prohibit membership contract provisions that require “the buyer to renew the contract.” (NJSA 56:8-42 i.) Judge Walls agreed with Martina that LA Fitness’ cancellation policy, requiring mailing of the cancellation notice and extension of the contract term post cancellation, is deceptive and presents an unacceptable barrier to cancellation.

In a similar class action lawsuit by California consumers concerning strict membership cancellation policies, the parties reached a settlement in which LA Fitness was required to provide aggrieved consumers with 45-day free passes to LA Fitness clubs. If the court grants final approval of the settlement reached between Martina and LA Fitness, New Jersey consumers will receive one-third of a month’s dues and a choice of two free training sessions or $100 toward a new membership, in addition to a 45-day free pass. Information about how consumers may file a claim in the New Jersey class action settlement has not yet been released.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of unlawful or deceptive business practices, you may be entitled to relief. Please call Khorrami Boucher Sumner Sanguinetti, LLP for a confidential consultation.

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