BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is suing a Taunton-based health club, its manager and an employee over allegations of consumer fraud.

The lawsuit alleges Fit N' Fitness, its manager John Copell and an employee, Gail Barbas, solicited and collected membership fees towards anew health center that ultimately never opened.

According to the complaint, the defendants began soliciting new memberships beginning Sept. 2007-Sept. 2008, all the while informing customers the new facility would open in Jan. 2008.

Consumers pre-paid between $99 and $349 for different membership levels and were told repeatedly throughout 2008 by different employees of the health club that the club would be opening "soon", according to Coakley.

The State is seeking injunctive relief, consumer restitution and costs of investigation and prosecution of this case.

"Particularly where our economy is still fragile, consumers should be careful before signing contracts and paying advance fees," Coakley said.

"It is not uncommon for a business to fail before it has a chance to open. Consumers need to know with whom they are contracting with and the circumstances under which they are able to cancel the contract."

A hearing on the State's motion for a preliminary injunction has been scheduled for Oct. 14.

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