24 Hour Fitness Class Action Lawsuit Certified for RICO Bank Fraud and Wire Fraud

Friday, October 23, 2009 General News
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Company Faces Potential Liability of More Than $100 Million

- Complaint & Attorney Interviews Available -

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- One-and-a-half million former members of 24 Hour Fitness, the gym popularized by the television show "Biggest Loser," are permitted to pursue a nationwide class action case against 24 Hour Fitness for violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), per a decision by the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Friedman vs. 24 Hour Fitness USA, Inc., (Case # 06-06282), alleges that 24 Hour Fitness continues to deliberately take monthly payments out of consumer's accounts after the member cancels membership. The case was filed in U.S. District Court, Central District of California.

The gym insists all members pay their monthly memberships by electronic transfer. It is estimated that 24 Hour Fitness is making $1.6 million a month that it is getting from former members' bank and credit card accounts by defrauding such companies as Bank of America and J.P. Morgan Chase, which process payments via the national financial system networks for electronic fund transfers.

"24 Hour Fitness is the modern day Al Capone, using the electronic banking and credit card system as Al Capone and his mob used the Tommy gun," says Los Angeles trial lawyer Robert L. Esensten of Wasserman Comden & Casselman. "This is exactly what the RICO laws were designed to stop. Apparently 24 Hour Fitness's annual revenues of over one billion dollars a year are not enough for its owners, despite the fact that today's consumers are struggling to make every dollar count."

24 Hour Fitness is considered the nation's largest fitness chain, owned by the private equity firm Forstmann, Little & Co., based in New York.

It uses celebrities Shaquille O'Neal, Magic Johnson, Andre Agassi, Derek Jeter, and Lance Armstrong to promote the gym and to sell monthly memberships. For instance, 24 Hour Fitness teamed up with O'Neal to create new 24 Hour Fitness Shaq Sports Clubs, the first of which opened in Miami in 2005.

The 24 Hour Fitness class action will now proceed to trial. If the gym is found in violation of the RICO laws, the company faces potential liability for more than $100 million.

Wasserman, Comden & Casselman, LLP and Keller Grover, LLP are court-appointed class counsel. For information, contact Wasserman, Comden & Casselman at 800.736.6800 or visit www.wcclaw.com.

SOURCE Wasserman, Comden & Casselman, LLP

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