CHARLESTON - State Attorney General Darrell McGraw has filed suit against two Curves For Women outlets, another health spa and settled with a baby photographer.
The suits against the Curves For Women stores, filed Dec. 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court, says neither paid a $50,000 Health Spa Surety Bond or registered as a health spa in 2005 or 2006.
"It is an unfair or deceptive act or practice for any health spa to fail to register to do business in this state," the complaint says.
On the first suit, the defendants are Ash, Inc., and owner James Hayes. The Curves store is located in Oak Hill.
On the second suit, the defendants are Kali Style and owner Lisa Kunzler. Kunzler is of Winchester, Va., and the store is located in Inwood.
The lawsuits seek injunctions enjoining the defendants from operating until they register and civil penalties in the amount of $5,000 for each violation of the West Virginia Credit and Consumer Protection Act.
Jill Miles, the head of McGraw's consumer protection division, is handling the case. Judges Irene Berger and Paul Zakaib have each been assigned a case.
"The Health Spa Rule as enacted to protect the public from fly-by-night operations," McGraw said in a press release. "Just yesterday, my office had to sue a health spa in Morgantown that went out of business overnight leaving its customers with worthless memberships."
That spa is Just For Women II, owned by Paul Arsenault.
McGraw's lawsuit, filed Dec. 6 in Monongalia Circuit Court, says Just For Women II did not pay the $50,000 surety bond either, and Arsenault permanently closed it without prior notice on Oct. 7.
However, the suit alleges he continued to sell one-year memberships and take monthly membership fees from bank accounts. One-year memberships went for $279, and six-month memberships were $179, the complaint says.
"The defendants have not refunded the money to consumers whose memberships had not expired or, in some cases, whose memberships had not even begun when Just For Women II closed for good," the complaint says.
Kim Stitzinger Jones is handling the case for McGraw.
McGraw also settled with That's My Baby, a baby photographing company that was selling photo packets and other products to consumers in their hospital rooms. McGraw said the company was not honoring a three-day cooling-off period in which a person can cancel a sale, as required by federal law.
The company promised to start allowing the three-day period in all sales that take place somewhere other than a fixed retail business establishment.
That's My Baby was doing most of its work in the hospital rooms of Raleigh General Hospital in Beckley.
"The federally mandated three-day 'cooling-off period' was intended to protect consumers from high-pressure coercive sales tactics. Consumers are especially vulnerable to such tactics at their homes or similar places, which is precisely why the Federal Trade Commission gave consumers three business days to come to their senses and cancel the sale if they believe they were taken advantage of or simply wish to change their minds. Whether such sales take place at the head of the hollow in rural West Virginia or, as in this case, in a hospital room, my office will ensure that this important legal protection is enforced," McGraw said.