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On Thanksgiving I took my husband into my gym for an hour to…

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On Thanksgiving I took...

On Thanksgiving I took my husband into my gym for an hour to keep me company. The gym is one where members can let themselves in if no one is there. I left a note for the manager that I had brought my husband in and that if there was a guest fee I was happy to pay it. 5 days later the manager called me to say that I owed him $500 for bringing someone in whi is not a member, and that I tresspassed, committed something called theft of services, and that if I didn't pay he would file criminal charges against me. Yes, that is in the contract, and although I never was given a copy of the contract to have in my possession, I thought that pertained to bringing friends or allowing strangers to enter. I did not try to get with anything, and owned that I allowed my husband to enter. he did not use any of the equipment. I do not have $500, nor do I have a criminal record of any kind. The owner of the gym did indeed file criminal charges against me, and I was contacted by a police officer last night, which was very unnerving. I am 65, and a model citizen. What should I do? I am a wreck!!!

Lawyer's Assistant: Since laws vary from place to place, what state is this in? And when did this happen?

NJ, and it was Thanksgiving Day this past one. I did not hear anything about this until 5 days later and had been in the gym on the subsequent days after Thanksgiving. First "offense" and brought about by a logical thought process that a guest fee might be appropriate.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to a lawyer yet?

No. I cannot afford one.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

The phone call from the owner was quite upsetting and intimidating, with absolutely no leniency for an innocent action. He demanded that if I didn't give him the payment by 1pm on teh day he called, he would proceed with legal action.

Submitted: 8 months ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 3 minutes by:
11/30/2017
Lawyer: Legal Eagle, Lawyer replied 8 months ago
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Because I want to provide you with the most accurate answer possible, do you mind if I take a moment to review your question?

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not include an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.

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Lawyer: Legal Eagle, Lawyer replied 8 months ago

I'm very sorry to hear about your situation. So, there are a few issues that I see here. The first is with the $500 fee for having visitors. First, it appears as if your husband wasn't a visitor. Rather, if he was just there to keep you company, used no equipment, and didn't otherwise engaging in any workout while he was there, then you shouldn't be subject to the fee contractually.

The second issue is that $500 may be considered an unconscionable term. For most gym memberships, they're anywhere between 30-100 dollars per month, so to charge someone who is not a member $500 seems excessive and unconscionable, which means that a court may not enforce that term.

Also, he could file a criminal complaint; however, because your husband is no longer on the property, it is probable that a judge would dismiss any attempt by a district attorney to charge him with trespassing, particularly if you, a member, allowed him access to the property.

You may want to consider just writing a cease and desist letter advising him that you will not put up with this behavior. Lawyers use letters like these often to enforce their client’s rights. Here’s a website that has a good template (click here). It only costs $10 and it is way cheaper than litigation.

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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

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