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Class Claim Against 24 Hour Fitness Clubs

DALLAS (CN) - 24 Hour Fitness contracts violate consumer protection laws on cancellation and refunds, a class action claims in Federal Court.

Lead plaintiff Russell Wendt sued 24 Hour Fitness USA, claiming its illegal contracts take advantage of customers' "lack of knowledge, ability, experience, or capacity to a grossly unfair degree."

Wendt claims the health clubs violate Texas consumer laws and the Health Spa Act.

"24 Hour Fitness failed to include all of the mandatory language in its purported contracts with plaintiffs and the other members of the class and also materially changed mandatory language in the contracts," the 26-page complaint states.

"24 Hour Fitness also violated the venue provision, the anti-waiver provision and the voiding provision of the Health Spa Act. Accordingly, the purported contracts between 24 Hour Fitness and plaintiffs and the other members of the class are void," the complaint states.

Under the Texas Health Spa Act, health club operators must inform members of their right to cancel within three days of signing. The Act also requires language on refunds by mail if a health spa is not fully open and does not provide another facility within 10 miles.

"However, the Wendt contract states that a customer is entitled to a full refund only 'if the location of your club enrollment does not fully open' within one year after the date 24 Hour pre-sells memberships," the complaint states.

The law also requires language on cancellation of contracts in the event of death or permanent disability. Wendt claims 24 Hour Fitness contracts illegally limit refunds.

"Prorated refunds shall be based on the number of paid months and does not include bonus time," the complaint states, citing a contract. "You are not entitled to any refund after the expiration of the paid period or for used fitness services."

24 Hour Fitness did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It operates more than 400 health clubs in 18 states, including 89 in Texas.

Wendt seeks class certification, disgorgement, an injunction and actual and punitive damages for violations of the Texas Health Spa Act and the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

He is represented by Roger Mandel with Lackey Hershman in Dallas.

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