Pennsylvania District Court Certifies Health Club Fee Class Action


As billing fraud class action attorneys, we were pleased to see that a Pennsylvania federal district court recently certified a class in a lawsuit alleging three health clubs in Pennsylvania charged excessive startup fees. In Allen v. Holiday Universal, the court certified a class of all plaintiffs who joined a Bally Total Fitness in Pennsylvania (which includes Holiday Universal, Inc. and Scandinavian Health Spa gyms) on or after December 7, 1998 and paid more than $100 in startup costs.

In a 63-page Memorandum of Order, U.S. District Judge Gene Pratter of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania rejected several arguments raised by the defense that the class should not be certified. Among those arguments were:
* Club members with different contracts were too different to form a class.
* Members who did not object to their contracts had waived their class membership.
* Some members of the proposed class suffered no injury.

The suit seeks to recover initiation fees it alleges are excessive under Pennsylvania’s Health Club Act and its Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. (Despite the state-law claims, the case was removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act.) The suit also claimed declaratory relief, for which certification was also granted. Certification for a claim for unjust enrichment was denied, said the judge, “because of the individual nature of those claims with respect to both damages and liability.”

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