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Town Sports Gyms Passport Membership Is Not “All Access” Class Action

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One of TSI's New York Sports Club Gyms

It’s understandable that companies aren’t happy about class actions filed against them. Some fight the charges; others change their procedures. But the complaint for this one alleges that Town Sports International (TSI) berated and/or barred two customers who filed one.

The class for this action is all persons who are or have been Passport Members of TSI during the period of statutory limitations.

TSI is one of the largest owner/operators of fitness clubs in the US, with roughly 544,000 members and 150 gyms. It does business under the names New York Sports Clubs, Boston Sports Clubs, Washington Sports Clubs, and Philadelphia Sports Clubs. The company operates locations in other states under these names as well.

Most of TSI’s revenue comes from gym memberships, the complaint claims. The club offers various kinds of memberships, including a Home membership that allows access to a single gym, and a Passport membership that allows “all access” to TSI’s various locations.

Roughly 45% of customers pay for a Passport membership, the complaint says. It quotes the Passport membership agreement of one plaintiff as saying that a person with a Passport Membership “may use any TSI club at any time.” Although not all members are given written agreements, the complaint claims that statements in TSI’s advertising and on its website also promise “all access” to its locations.

However, according to the complaint, Passport members have been denied access to at least four of TSI’s New York gyms and three of its Boston gyms. The complaint claims that this is because TSI attempts to brand some of its gyms as “Elite” or “Flagship” and therefore more exclusive. Passport members are only admitted to these gyms, the complaint claims, if they pay a single-usage fee on top of their Passport membership.

On February 1, 2018, plaintiffs Carly Pisarri and Aubily Remus Jasmin filed a class action against TSI’s violation of consumer fraud laws in New York, Massachusetts, Washington, DC, and Philadelphia. Approximately two weeks later, the complaint claims, Patrick Walsh, TSI’s CEO, called each of them, despite knowing that they were represented by counsel. The complaint claims that Walsh berated Jasmin and tried to get him to drop the suit; and that Walsh repeatedly called Pisarri, who did not answer his calls.

A few days later, TSI barred both plaintiffs from entering its gyms. However, Pisarri’s membership agreement states that membership can be revoked if “the member consistently failed to observe the rules and regulations or has otherwise behaved in a manner contrary to the best interests of the club(s) or the club(s) members.” The complaint claims that the plaintiffs were barred not for proper cause but in retaliation for their lawsuit.

The complaint cites the state consumer protection laws of New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Virginia. It also makes claims of breach of contract, fraud, and other violations.

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