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Members of New York Sports Club (NYSC) who were unlawfully charged monthly fees during the pandemic could be getting their money back, after New York’s Attorney General Letitia James announced a $250,000 lawsuit settlement with their former parent company.

The former NYSC Gym at Worldwide Plaza photographed in September 2020.

The Attorney General said the agreement still needs approval by the courts, but added that it “could make $250,000 available in the future for potential restitution to affected New York gym members who were charged for gym services that were not available to them.”

“From the beginning of my office’s investigation, I have made clear to New York Sports Clubs and Lucille Roberts that the COVID-19 pandemic would not give them a free pass to violate the law and take advantage of members,” said Attorney General James. “A public health crisis did not give these gyms license to lift up their finances through unlawful charges. Today’s agreement holds the former parent company for these gyms accountable and brings us one step closer to recovering a $250,000 bond posted by the parent company for potential distribution to members harmed by their unlawful practices.” 

On March 16, 2020, all health clubs were ordered closed, in an effort to stop the further spread of COVID-19. The vast majority of gyms and health clubs in New York responded by committing to freezing memberships at no cost until they reopened, some promising to automatically credit consumers for days the clubs were closed. However, NYSC and Lucille Roberts continued to charge some members membership dues and refused to honor some cancellation requests — instead, imposing fees and conditions on cancellation — and freeze requests, even though all clubs were closed.

Despite overtures that the company would change its practices, it did not. As a result, in September 2020, Attorney General James sued the NYSC holding company, Town Sports International (TSI), alleging that NYSC and Lucille Roberts clubs violated numerous New York state laws by charging membership dues for services not being offered; failing to issue credits as promised; imposing unlawful fees and advance notice requirements on cancellation requests; misleading consumers about their rights to cancel their memberships; and refusing to honor cancellation requests.

Town Sports International filed for bankruptcy last September. Since then some locations have closed, while others have been taken over. Locally, the venue at Worldwide Plaza is trading as TMPL again (but no longer associated with David Barton).

The bankruptcy court required TSI’s assets to be sold and for the company to be shut down. Since November 2020, all gyms branded New York Sports Club or Lucille Roberts have been purchased and are now operated by a different company. TSI no longer has any role in owning or managing NYSC or Lucille Roberts gyms. 

All NYSC and Lucille Roberts members who were improperly charged during the pandemic or denied requests for cancellation can still file complaints if they have not already done so on the OAG’s website.

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