On January 1st, many anxious and determined individuals stepped into health clubs across Illinois to embark on one of the most common New Year’s Resolutions—lose weight and get in-shape. Several clubs will market the opportunity for business by giving away free day or week guest passes to a potential new comer and/or repeat customers. However, before you step-foot into one of these big-box sweat machines to redeem your free guest pass, take a moment to read the fine print; and do not deviate from its instruction(s).
Four months ago, a district court judge ruled that the plaintiff (gym guest) was legally a trespasser when he tripped over some cables and injured himself at Life Time Fitness Club in an Illinois Suburb and, therefore, could not hold the defendant-company liable. Mr. Belot, the plaintiff, went into a local Lifetime Fitness to check out the facility. He waited to be greeted at the front desk, but no one was there. He decided to take a self-guided tour and in doing so tripped over a few cords while trying to test an elliptical machine.
The court emphasized that one’s status as an invitee can changed if he or she fails to satisfy any condition set forth in the invitation. The court conceded that the “[p]laintiff was arguably an invitee when he entered the gym: he received a guest pass in the mail, which was an express invitation, and the purpose of that invitation was ultimately to enroll him as a gym member, which is directly related to Defendants’ business.” However, the court continued its analysis and explained that “invitees may nonetheless lose their status and become trespassers when, after being invited onto the premises, they go to an area beyond the scope of an invitation or otherwise deviate from conditions of that invitation.”
The court held that Mr. Belot went beyond the scope of the guest pass when he ignored a clause in the invitation that required all guests to present a photo ID and take a membership tour. Therefore, he could not hold Life Time Fitness liable for the injuries he sustained while on his exploration of the facility.