Boston Sports Club hit with class-action suit for charging members during coronavirus

The action came after the state's attorney general demanded answers in a letter.

April 7, 2020, 2:48 PM

A handful of Boston Sports Club members have filed a class-action lawsuit against the gym's parent company, Town Sports International, alleging they're still being charged gym fees despite all facilities being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gym-goers claim the sports club was "willfully and knowingly charging consumers monthly membership fees" despite not being able to provide services, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.

The members who are suing called the conduct "a deplorable display of unconscionable corporate avarice" amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the complaint filed in the United States District Court for Massachusetts on Monday.

The company shuttered all Boston Sports Club locations in Massachusetts in mid-March because of the outbreak, furloughing or terminating most employees, the complaint states.

"However, Town Sports then shockingly and willingly continued to charge consumers monthly membership fees for services that it knowingly would not render," the court document states.

The plaintiffs, all of whom are Boston Sports Club members, are seeking compensatory damages, injunctive relief, attorneys fees and more.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey weighed in via Twitter, writing, "Make no mistake -- this is illegal."

She said that "much like many Boston Sports Club members, my team has been trying to get a straight answer" from them about "how people can cancel their accounts."

"So far, they have refused to provide one. Maybe it's because they fired all their employees," she added. "This is completely unacceptable."

Healey said her office sent a demand letter to the company asking that the matter be corrected "ASAP."

Town Sports International did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday.

The class-action lawsuit in Massachusetts comes after other state attorneys general have taken action against the company, which has been accused of the same tactics elsewhere in the U.S. amid the pandemic.

Last Friday, Attorney General Letitia James of New York, Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania and Attorney General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia sent a letter to Town Sports International, which also operates New York Sports Clubs, Philadelphia Sports Clubs and Washington Sports Clubs.

The state attorneys general alleged the company was still automatically charging members despite gyms in New York, Pennsylvania and D.C. being closed.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic has plunged our country into an unprecedented public health crisis, businesses have shuttered their doors, leaving millions without a paycheck and scraping to get by," James said in a statement. "While the closure of all New York Sports Club facilities may have also placed a strain on the company, its financial straits do not relieve NYSC of its obligation to follow the law."

"New Yorkers have enough to worry about and should not be forced to pay for services NYSC is no longer providing," she added. "If NYSC refuses to do the right thing voluntarily, I will not hesitate to take every legal step necessary to protect New Yorkers from NYSC's unlawful conduct and get their money back."

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