April 25, 2007
St. Charles, Mo. — A St. Louis-area women's fitness and health spa that collected membership fees in advance before suddenly going out of business last November needs to issue refunds to its former customers, Attorney General Jay Nixon says.
Nixon filed a lawsuit today in St. Charles County Circuit Court, stating that New Lady Fitness violated Missouri consumer protection laws. The lawsuit says New Lady sold memberships to consumers, some of whom paid in advance for long-term contracts, then closed its remaining four St. Louis-area locations last November. The owners have not issued refunds to approximately 250 former customers who had time remaining on their contracts.
"Consumers commonly pay in advance for health club memberships, and Missouri law protects them if the club goes out of business," Nixon said. "We want to ensure that consumers aren't out thousands of dollars just because this club abruptly shut down."
Nixon says New Lady continued to sell long-term memberships even when the owners knew it was about to close. His lawsuit asks for at least $84,000 in refunds for customers who paid in advance. Missouri law requires health clubs that shut down to provide alternative locations for their customers. New Lady has moved its customers' accounts to a coed fitness center, but Nixon says that is not a suitable alternative. Many consumers joined New Lady because it was a women-only facility.
The lawsuit asks that the court require New Lady Fitness to provide restitution to all individuals who paid in advance and had time left on their memberships when the business shut down; to pay a civil penalty to the state of $1,000 per violation; and to pay all court, investigative and prosecution costs in the case.
Consumers can still file complaints against this company by calling Nixon's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222 or online at ago.mo.gov.