A man claims that he and others continued to be charged gym service fees by Nautilus Plus, a chain of Quebec gyms, despite being unable to access the facilities due to coronavirus restrictions in a newly filed class action lawsuit.
Lead plaintiff, Enrico Gioiosa, says that he entered into a year-long contract with the gym in October of 2019, paying approximately $14 a month for access to Nautilus Plus facilities. Enrico says that he set up pre-authorized payments at that time.
In March, after the COVID-19 blossomed into a worldwide pandemic, the provincial government declared a State of Emergency and issued various decrees that effectively shut down Nautilus Plus gyms, notes the complaint. However, despite not having access to any gym facilities, the plaintiff says that he is still being charged monthly gym service fees. In addition, the plaintiff says that he and other members of the gym are being forced to change the terms of their contracts, extending them into the next year by Nautilus Plus.
The company’s website indicates that it is temporarily closed due to COVID-19. According to the gym service fees class action lawsuit, there are about 50 Nautilus Plus locations offering group lessons, personal training, and other services. The website offers workout and nutrition tips.
“Nautilus Plus takes on the mission of actively participating in the well-being of the population by doing everything possible to improve your health and quality of life. The promise of Nautilus Plus is to offer more,” states the website.
The plaintiff claims that the gym cannot fulfill these obligations under the current COVID-19 restrictions that do not allow members to access its facilities.
Enrico says that he has asked on numerous occasions for the fees to be stopped, but Nautilus Plus insists that it will simply extend the contract to cover additional months. The plaintiff says that other gym members have been forced into the same deal without the option to cancel the contract.
“Defendant is unilaterally modifying the terms of all its consumer contracts to extend same for an indeterminate period of time without written consent of its consumers,” alleges the gym service fees class action lawsuit. “In doing so, Defendant is effectively, inter alia, imposing a unilateral change upon its member clients and depriving them of their right to cancel their respective service contracts and also extending the term of said contracts beyond the maximal term provided for by law.”
The class action lawsuit argues that Nautilus Plus is in violation of Quebec’s Consumer Protection Act. The continued gym service fees allegedly violate Class Members’ right to cancel the contract and also forces them into a contract longer than they anticipated.
“Defendant cannot reap the benefits of Petitioner’s Membership Fees, while suspending the performance of its correlative obligations under the guise of superior force, since same would equate to an unfair, unreasonable and illegal situation that would have its clients act as de facto financiers of its operations to the detriment of the latter persons,” states the gym service fees class action lawsuit.
The proposed service fees class action lawsuit claims that the plaintiff and other Class Members are currently being forced to pay for services they are not receiving due to the coronavirus shutdown.
The plaintiff seeks to represent those in Québec who had entered into a contract with Nautilus Plus before March 15, 2020 and who have been forced to continue to pay gym service fees and forced into a longer contract by the gym.
“Every Class member who was forced to pay Service/Membership Fees to Defendant did so under the reasonable expectation and expressed term that they would be doing so in consideration for the ability to use Defendant’s fitness studio equipment and other ancillary gym services, as per the terms of their respective Consumer Service Contracts; Defendant’s actions herein clearly demonstrate a failure in this regard,” contends the complaint.
In addition to repayment of gym service fees for the months Nautilus Plus has been closed, the proposed gym service fees class action lawsuit is also seeking punitive damages in the amount of $300 to each Class Member. The plaintiff is also seeking a court order that allows Class Members to cancel their contracts with Nautilus Plus.
Have you been charged gym service fees while your gym was closed due to the coronavirus outbreak? Tell us what happened to you in the comment section below!
The lead plaintiff and proposed Class Members are represented by Neil H. Stein and Nicholas Chine of Stein & Stein Inc.
The Gym Service Fees Class Action Lawsuit is Gioiosa v. Nautilus Plus Inc., Case No. 500-06-001074-208, in the Superior Court of Québec, District of Montreal, Canada.
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