FALL RIVER, MA -- The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley filed a lawsuit against Fit ’N Fitness, a club in Taunton, MA, that never opened.
Coakley’s office filed the suit Monday in Bristol Superior Court in Taunton. In addition to Fit ’N Fitness, the attorney general’s office is suing manager John Copell and employee Gail Barbas for their roles in soliciting and collecting membership fees for a health club that failed to open.
According to the complaint, Copell and Barbas solicited consumers from September 2007 through September 2008 with false promises that the club would open in January 2008. Consumers pre-paid between $99 and $349 for different membership levels and were told repeatedly that the club would be opening “soon.” The complaint also alleges the property in which the club was to open appeared to be abandoned in November 2008, 10 months after the club’s scheduled opening.
“Particularly where our economy is still fragile, consumers should be careful before signing contracts and paying advance fees,” Coakley said in a statement. “It is not uncommon for a business to fail before it has a chance to open. Consumers need to know with whom they are contracting and the circumstances under which they are able to cancel the contract.”
Coakley’s office is seeking injunctive relief, consumer restitution and costs of investigation and prosecution of the case. A hearing on the motion has been set for next Wednesday in Fall River (MA) Superior Court.