The high-profile Hanson vs. Crunch Fitness lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for every fitness club, diet center and trainer.
The club owner’s dreaded worst-case scenario has finally surfaced. The health club industry has been pulled into a high-profile lawsuit that could have far-reaching implications for every fitness club, diet center and personal trainer.
As reported on June 29, 1999, by the New York Post and aired as a lead story on the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, Crunch Fitness Centers and one of its trainers is being sued for $40,000,000 (as in 40 million dollars). The case involves a 37-year-old mother of two who collapsed during a personal training session on October 1, 1998, and died later that night. The lawsuit alleges improper and dangerous instruction on the part of Crunch and its trainer for “prescribing” certain supplements and failing to warn her about the risks of these drugs. The woman’s husband claims that several of the products that the trainer instructed his wife to take caused her to suffer a hypertensive stroke. The claim further alleges that the trainer and, therefore, the club, knew the woman was taking medication for high blood pressure. At least one of the supplements allegedly recommended by the trainer contained ephedra, a controversial stimulant readily used to promote weight loss. The claim also involves the manufacturers and distributors of the supplements, bringing the total amount of the claim to $320 million.
The attorney for the deceased woman’s husband was quoted as saying, “We hope this case will have an impact beyond compensating the family.” In other words, the attorney is going to try to convince a jury to “send a message” to health club owners and personal trainers that will “expose the reckless nature of these unregulated diet supplements and unqualified health and nutritional advisors.”
I have always been amazed about how some plaintiff attorneys view themselves as exposers of fraud and protectors of our society. These same lawyers will also try to convince us that the astronomical monetary sum is only secondary to the “cause of justice.” Once again, our legal system is put to the test.
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