Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine recently initiated a lawsuit against South Beach Fitness of Westerville LLC and its owners for allegedly violating Ohio consumer protection laws.
South Beach Fitness allegedly sold gym memberships to consumers but never opened its facility. The company planned to open a facility and began entering into contracts with consumers in 2012 and 2013, indicating the facility would open soon, but to date the facility has not opened and the business indicated it will not.
“Our primary goal is to obtain refunds for consumers,” DeWine said. “Under Ohio law, businesses can sell gym memberships before the facility opens, but they can’t then fail to open the facility and not provide refunds.”
Ohio’s Prepaid Entertainment Contracts Act allows consumers to pay in advance for services, but the facility must open within 180 days after the contract is signed.
The investigation opened after seven consumers filed complaints with DeWine’s office, although more have likely been affected. Specific counts in the lawsuit include failure to give proper notice regarding the facility’s opening date, requiring excess payment, failing to honor refund requests and failure to deliver. DeWine is seeking consumer restitution, civil penalties and an injunction to stop further violations.