Clients, staff angry over spa's closing Operators reportedly failed to refund fees or issue paychecks

'Couldn't pay mortgage'

Fitness center shut doors Jan. 7, is in bankruptcy court

March 08, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

Clients and instructors of a Pasadena fitness center say the facility's management has failed to refund membership fees or issue paychecks since it declared bankruptcy and closed two months ago.

The management company, Kasmas Management in Glen Burnie, changed the locks and removed the exercise equipment from Spa Lady at Ritchie Highway and Jumper's Hole Road Jan. 7. It has filed for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Baltimore.

A sign with the words "Temporarily Closed" hangs on the front door.

"I'm very upset because I couldn't pay my mortgage or feed my kids," said Karen Ryan, the former manager who is waiting for a $1,600 paycheck. "I had to borrow money from my friends."

Spa members said they paid a $250 fee to join the club. But since the center closed, they said, they have yet to receive a phone call or letter informing them of the company's plans to refund their money.

"I felt we all had been taken," said Mary Johnson, a spa member since 1982. Some members and instructors have contacted the state's attorney's office about getting their money.

Officials at Kasmas Management in Glen Burnie did not return phone calls.

This is not the first time the spa management has had problems. In October 1994, Club Management Corp. of Timonium sold the center to Kasmas, owner of 16 Spa Lady centers in Maryland and Virginia.

Several instructors at Spa Lady at that time filed suit against Club Management Corp. for up to 14 weeks of back pay, ranging from $800 to $2,300. Spa members found they had to pay a new initiation fee because Kasmas said it would not honor membership renewals paid before it assumed ownership.

"I've had to pay a new membership fee every time it's gone under," said Barbara Parrish, a 12-year member. "I'm angry."

Judy Arbic, a member for five years, said she could "see the handwriting on the wall."

"I wasn't surprised because the last couple of weeks, the teachers were complaining that they weren't getting paid and that their checks were bouncing," Mrs. Arbic said.

Christine Price, who said she hasn't received her $100 paycheck for two weeks of teaching low-impact aerobics, said the money is not as important as the management's decision to withhold information from the employees.

"The thing that bothers me is they didn't tell the employees anything," she said. "Nothing was said to us."

Pub Date: 3/08/96

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