A Texas man claims in a proposed class action that American Specialty Health Inc. and American Specialty Health Fitness, Inc. have continued to charge monthly membership fees while gyms remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the center of the lawsuit is the defendants’ “Active & Fit Direct” fitness program, which purportedly grants members access to thousands of participating fitness centers nationwide. Participants in the defendants’ program pay $25 per month, plus tax, as well as a $25 enrollment fee, the lawsuit explains.
In March, however, gyms and fitness centers across the nation began to close as state and local “stay at home” mandates were issued in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the suit says. The case claims that although the defendants could no longer provide the service for which customers paid, American Specialty “made the deliberate decision” to continue charging customers monthly fees.
In doing so, the companies collected millions from customers who no longer had access to the service that “formed the basis of [their] agreement” with the defendants, the lawsuit argues.
American Specialty’s conduct comes amid troubling times as many Americans face widespread economic uncertainty created by the public health crisis, the case claims. Alleging violations of California, Texas, and federal law, the lawsuit says the defendants, by continuing to charge fees for a service they can no longer provide, have essentially chosen “to profit from the COVID-19 Pandemic to the detriment of millions of Americans.”
From the suit:
“During the pandemic, millions of Americans lost their jobs and the ability to earn a living. Millions of people are struggling to survive. Rather than stop charging their customers during the pandemic, like other business [sic] have done, Defendants have continued taking money from their customers.”
The lawsuit looks to cover anyone who was charged a membership fee by the defendants while they were under a “stay at home,” “shelter in place” or similar order due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a proposed subclass of Texas residents.
ClassAction.org’s coverage of COVID-19 litigation can be found here and over on our Newswire.