Gym Fails to Cancel Membership; Loses Appeal
That gym membership contract does not have as much muscle as you think, according to a recent decision by The Court of Appeals of Ohio, Second Appellate District. If the gym has not followed PECA (Prepaid Entertainment Contract Act) precisely, then the customer can cancel a predatory, overpriced membership and receive a refund of everything paid – plus damages and reasonable attorney fees.
In a recent case filed in Montgomery County, our client sued Everybody Fitness, LLC in Dayton, Ohio for charging a $100.00 enrollment fee (twice the legal limit), payable before he and his wife could use the facility. In addition, the gym charged the couple $48.10 per month, deducted from the plaintiff’s credit card before receiving services, and an annual fee of $41.73. The gym promised that Zumba classes would be available. When the gym failed to offer the classes, the couple decided to cancel their 36-month family membership and requested a refund of all money paid under the contract minus $10.00. Because the contract was a prepaid entertainment contract, cancellation and a refund of was an option.
As part of our client’s cancellation, he requested a copy of his contract, the return of any evidence of indebtedness, and notice of whether the gym would return or keep evidence of indebtedness. But, he did not receive any of these documents. Everybody Fitness failed to provide a Notice of Cancellation within the time frame necessary to comply with PECA requirements, did not provide an address to which our client could deliver the document, and illegally produced a notice with type smaller than 10 point. The trial court determined that the gym did knowingly perform these violations and found for our client on summary judgments.
Everybody Fitness appealed the decision and unsuccessfully argued at the court of appeals that our client’s requests were more than what PECA required. The court agreed with our client and the earlier court’s decision in part, but also reversed the earlier awarding of damages for mental anguish and stress.
Our client paid $911.33 in membership fees over the course of his contract with Everybody Fitness, which the court ordered refunded to him. He is also entitled to statutory double damages for a total award of $1,802.66. The court also awarded our law firm attorney’s fees, which will be determined at the conclusion of the case.
To schedule an appointment for help in membership cancellation, call the consumer protection lawyers at Doucet & Associates at (614) 944-5219.