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Sue Guinn Legg

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Settlement proposed in class-action suit against fitness club

August 4th, 2011 10:57 pm by Sue Guinn Legg

Attorneys have negotiated a proposed settlement in a 5-year-old class-action lawsuit brought on behalf of members of two former Johnson City fitness clubs now known as Tri-Cities Lifestyle Center that claims the former companies failed to honor reduced club-renewal fees included in their membership contracts.
A survey of the individual club members is under way to determine if they wish to rejoin the club, renew their memberships, receive a cash award or object to the settlement.
The lawsuit was brought on behalf of members of the former Nautilus Fitness and Johnson City Health & Fitness Center who purchased club memberships that the lawsuit claims guaranteed them renewal rates — $75 per individual or $225 to $250 per couple — that the companies refused to honor after Jan. 1, 2005.
Attorneys are directing those club members to a legal notice posted at the club website, www.tricitieslifestyle.com that includes a summary of the settlement proposal and a claim from that may be submitted to Washington County Chancery Court.
The notice, marked “Attention Members and Former Members” appears on the club’s home page along with several other club news items that rotate under the heading “What’s New.”
According to the notice, the lawsuit was filed by Deidre Brown, Linda Allen and Cindy Carper on behalf of a class of plaintiffs against Johnson City Health & Fitness Center and its owners Donald F. Bradford III and Wendy L. Bradford. The suit claims the defendants refused to allow the plaintiffs to renew memberships at guaranteed reduced fees, breaching contracts and unjustly and fraudulently enriching the defendants.
The defendants denied the membership contracts included the guaranteed renewal fees and contended the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by Tennessee law.
The proposed settlement gives the plaintiffs the option of one-time payment from a common fund of $35,000 or membership renewals at a rate of $250 per individual or $336 per couple for as many annual renewals as they like so long as the renewals are submitted on time.
Both settlement options require the plaintiffs to provide their membership contracts and proof that their membership renewal was denied by the defendants and to be alive on the date that they submit their claim for settlement.
According to the notice, all claims for settlement must be filed by Sept. 14.
The notice also states the defendants have agreed to pay $53,653.35 in attorney fees and expenses to the plaintiffs’ attorney, who will request the court award an additional $2,000 payment from the defendants to each of the three plaintiffs who pursued the lawsuit on behalf of the class.
Club members who object to the proposal must submit a notice of intent to object with the Chancery Court by Sept. 2 for service on attorneys Rick Bearfield for the defendants and Robert King for the plaintiffs.
A Chancery Court hearing of the settlement proposal will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 16, at Washington County’s George Jaynes Justice Center in Jonesborough.
In addition to the notice posted at club’s website, a copy of the proposed settlement may be obtained by emailing kinglaw@chartertn.net.

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