Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin filed a civil lawsuit yesterday in Providence County Superior Court against David Walker, individually, and Gable Fitness, Inc d/b/a Gold's Gym citing violations of Rhode Island's Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Rhode Island Health Club Act.
David Walker is the owner of the now closed Gold's Gym in North Providence. Notice of the lawsuit was served upon Mr. Walker on July 1. He has 20 days to respond to the complaint.
On April 10, 2014, customers of the Gold's Gym in North Providence arrived to find the gym closed. Mr. Walker informed his customers that their membership to the North Providence location would be valid at his Gold's Gym location in Warwick. Under Rhode Island Law, a customer may not get a refund of a pre-paid gym membership contract if there is another health club facility within 15 miles that accepts that contract. The distance between the North Providence and Warwick locations fell within 15 miles.
On May 18, 2014, Mr. Walker sold the Gold's Gym in Warwick, which began operating under new ownership and the name Global Gym. Multiple consumers contacted the Attorney General's Office to complain the owner of Global Gym charged maintenance fees to maintain a membership.
The Office of Attorney General has received more than 140 written complaints from Rhode Island consumers who allege that Mr. Walker solicited and accepted membership fees for services that could not and would not be provided, in violation of the Rhode Island Health Club Act.
The Attorney General alleges that the Defendants' actions have resulted in compensable losses to members in violation of the Rhode Island Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Previously, the Attorney General filed a civil investigative demand requesting Mr. Walker respond to the Office to answer questions related to the consumer complaints. Mr. Walker did appear before the Office to answer questions, after which the Attorney General determined the best course of action to resolve the consumer complaints was the civil action filed in Superior Court.
If there are consumers who were members of Gold's Gym and believes they are entitled to a refund, they should file a consumer complaint with the Consumer Protection Unit of the Office of Attorney General at http://www.riag.ri.gov/contact/consumercomplaint.php.
About the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit The Office of the Attorney General Consumer Protection Unit investigates and mediates consumer complaints concerning unfair and unlawful business practices and misleading advertising arising out of alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. If groups of people are victimized by a deceptive trade practice, this office may file in the Superior Court a civil investigative demand, which is a formal investigation. In appropriate cases, a lawsuit to stop the illegal business practice may be initiated.
Apart from carrying out its statutory responsibilities, the Unit also provides information and referral services to the general public. Consumers are directed to the appropriate governmental or private agencies for help in answering specialized questions or resolving disputes that are not within the Unit's jurisdiction.
The Consumer Protection Unit is available to speak to community groups on how to prevent being a victim of identity theft and other scams. For more information, please visit www.riag.ri.gov or call (401) 274-4400.