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For Immediate Release
June 23, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE REACHES AGREEMENT WITH FIVE HEALTH CLUBS AND KARATE SCHOOLS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has entered into Consent Orders with five health clubs and karate schools charged with failing to register with the Division as required by Maryland's Health Club Services Law. In addition to complying with the annual registration requirement, the Consent Orders require the businesses charged to pay more than $5,600 in penalties, costs and past due fees.

1. Anita Hardester t/a Westminster Karate Family Training Center, Westminster, charged with failing to register for registration year 2002-2003, is required to pay $550 in registration fees, costs and consumer education.

2. Bare Hills Athletic Club, Inc. t/a The Bare Hills Athletic Club, Baltimore, charged with failing to register for registration years 2000-2001, 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, is required to pay $2,737.30 in registration fees, costs and civil penalties.

3. Karate Club of America, Silver Spring, charged with failing to register for registration year 2002-2003, is required to pay $550 in registration fees, costs and civil penalties.

4. Kimble's Health and Fitness for Women t/a Kimble's Health and Fitness for Women, Silver Spring, charged with failing to register for registration year 2002-2003, is required to pay $600 in costs and civil penalties.

5. Westminster Karate Academy t/a Westminster Karate Academy, Westminster, charged with failing to register for registration years 1997-1998, 1998-1999, 1999-2000 and 2000-2001 and failing to provide statutorily required materials upon closing, is required to pay $1,200 in registration fees, costs and civil penalties.

Curran said that the Health Club Services Law requires health clubs, self-defense schools, and weight loss centers to register annually with the Consumer Protection Division and, if the business collects more than three months' advance payment or charges an initiation fee that exceeds $200, post security to protect consumers' payments. "The registration and bonding requirements of this law protect consumers against losing money if the facility closes," said Curran.

Curran urges consumers to call the Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6350 before they join a health club, weight loss center or karate school to see if it is properly registered and bonded. Consumers can also get information about health clubs, weight loss centers or karate schools on the web at www.oag.state.md.us/consumer/tip69.htm.

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