A California federal judge ruled that LA Fitness, Irvine, Calif., failed to show how a member who is suing the company over an alleged membership scam agreed to its arbitration clause.
LA Fitness had attempted to get a class-action lawsuit filed by Beau Briones in January tossed, citing the arbitration clause for dispute resolutions in agreements Briones had signed, Law360 reported. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton said that was not enough to show that Briones agreed to arbitrate any future claims.
“Here, (LA Fitness) seeks to bind Plaintiff to unseen and unnoticed terms that were never identified with specificity or provided by the device at the time of signing,” Staton wrote, as reported by Law360. “(LA Fitness) fails to provide any convincing authority to support this assertion, and the court declines to so hold.”
In his lawsuit, Briones claims his membership at LA Fitness expired in November 2014, but a club sales representative “using high pressure sales techniques” encouraged Briones to sign up for one extra month at the same monthly price of $140. Briones then signed a hand-held electronic device (without seeing a copy of the membership agreement) and paid $140 in cash the following day.
Briones claims LA Fitness withdrew $110 from his bank account every other week until March 3, 2015. During that time, Briones disputed the withdrawals, to no avail.
LA Fitness had always intended to sell Briones a one-year membership back in November 2014 rather than just the extra month at $140, according to the complaint.
In April, LA Fitness claimed Briones signed three agreements—a membership agreement and two personal training agreements—and that they all fell under the arbitration agreement, Law360 reported. LA Fitness also claimed Briones signed the personal training agreements with an electronic signature that had a sticker on the device telling members to review the agreement prior to signing.
Not only did LA Fitness fail to show that Briones saw each agreement before signing, Staton ruled, but she also said the stickers on the electronic signature devices “fail to establish an agreement to arbitrate or show that they are sufficient enough to create a contract under California law,” Law360 reported.
“It is undisputed that the device on which Plaintiff placed his signature did not display any terms of the purported agreements,” Staton said, as reported by Law360. “Thus, at most, (LA Fitness) can argue the stickers provide notice that the signee agrees to terms contained elsewhere.”
A representative for LA Fitness declined to comment to Law360.