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The Union Leader (Manchester, NH)
NASHUA — A local health club is suing a former member who posted a negative Yelp review online, alleging defamation and seeking $750,000 in damages.
Gateway Hills Health Club at 100 Innovative Way claims it was defamed last fall by Michael Abdinoor of 9 Carlene Drive when he wrote about issues he was having with the club's billing practices.
In Hillsborough County Superior Court filings on behalf of the club, Matt Dispensa says Abdinoor acted in bad faith when he "intentionally posted false, defamatory and slanderous statements" on Yelp.
Gateway Hills wants the post removed and $750,000 in damages, plus legal expenses, court costs and filing fees, say court documents. Abdinoor says he did nothing wrong, and that the club failed to resolve a billing disagreement.
"The (club's) action is meant to harass and intimidate defendant and is frivolous," Abdinoor contends in court documents. On Monday, Judge Tina Nadeau ordered both parties to participate in mediation in an attempt to resolve the dispute.
According to court records, Abdinoor began a new membership at the club in June 2017, for which he was quoted a $29.99 monthly fee. He says he provided his credit card to the gym at the time he received his member keycard so that it might be charged monthly.
Last September, Abdinoor discovered his monthly bills were not being paid, he says. Abdinoor contacted the club to resolve the matter and was told that he now owed $560 for 14 months of dues at $40 each, according to court records.
Abdinoor says he disputed the bill and was then asked to pay $360 for four months of dues.After several attempts to resolve the matter with club management in person, Abdinoor says he was locked out of the club in October and charged nearly $150, according to court records.
Abdinoor says he paid the October bill, which was eventually returned to him, but his membership keycard was never reactivated and he was told to find another gym. Abdinoor took to Yelp to express his dissatisfaction.
"... if you want a health club which is incompetent and disingenuous, Gateway Hills is the place to go," Abdinoor posted."I am also canceling the credit card given to them because they are untrustworthy."
In the same online review, Abdinoor said that despite the billing issue the gym was well organized and well maintained. Abdinoor is seeking $1,000 to cover his own legal fees and expenses associated with the litigation.
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