FEASTERVILLE, PA -- B&R Family Fitness Center in Feasterville, PA, is suing LA Fitness in Huntingdon Valley, PA, claiming that LA Fitness employees are dissuading prospective members from going to B&R by telling them B&R is on the verge of bankruptcy, closing or has other financial problems.

B&R filed a complaint in the Bucks County (PA) Court of Common Pleas on Tuesday. The complaint alleges claims against LA Fitness, based in Irvine, CA, for intentional interference with prospective business relationships, defamation, commercial disparagement, unfair competition and violations of the federal Lanham Act, which prohibits false advertising, among other activities.

Michael Eidel, an attorney representing B&R, says that claims of LA Fitness’ tactics began six months ago. B&R hired a former FBI investigator two weeks ago to pose as a potential customer and interview LA Fitness salespeople. The investigator came back to B&R with similar claims to those made previously.

Eidel says the club is not filing for bankruptcy, is not closing and is relatively healthy. Since the lawsuit was announced, Eidel says other prospective members have come forward, saying LA Fitness salespeople have made similar claims about B&R.

“It’s a very damaging message to put out there about a local health club,” Eidel says. “It’s one thing for a national chain to put out a national media blitz and have a huge advertising budget. When you’re picking on a local club, that’s a little bit different. They don’t have a lot of remedies to get back their reputation in the local community.”

B&R, which has been in business for more than 30 years, has an 80,000-square-foot facility that was recognized this year as a “Best in Bucks” Philadelphia Inquirer Readers’ Choice Awards winner.

Eidel says that if LA Fitness does not stipulate to B&R’s request for an injunction, B&R will be asking the court for a hearing on an injunction within the next week to two weeks.

The attorney representing LA Fitness could not be reached for comment.