Judge rules to keep Macon Health Club closed during litigation
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) -Macon Health Club members did not get the outcome they were hoping for Friday morning in court. They wanted an extension from the judge to re-open the health club for another 30 days.
Navicent Health took over the club in 1991. But in April, Navicent decided it wasn’t feasible for the Medical Center to keep the club open.
Navicent Health stated, “We are pleased the judge denied the temporary retraining order.”
Macon Health Club’s attorney, Kerry Howell, says he understands the court’s ruling, even though he doesn’t agree with it.
“In 1991, my clients gave the Medical Center, everything we had and in return we got a promise,” said Howell. “We got a promise that they would run that place and they would do so until it was not feasible enough for them to do so. We believe they violated that promise and that’s what we want a jury to decide.”
The 1991 contract gives Macon Health Center the opportunity to lease the Club from the hospital. Club members say the Macon Health Center is also known as the Macon Health Club.
In February, Navicent Health filed a lawsuit saying Macon Health Club doesn’t have the right to lease it, because the contract only specified Macon Health Center.
“We were believing that we were into negotiations to take, and were in negotiations to lease this facility back, to run this health club as it’s been run since the 1850s,” said Howell. “Next thing we know, we get served.”
Judge David Mincey decided it was a decision for a jury to make. Navicent then filed a motion asking the judge to rule on the case without a jury. Judge Mincey denied it.
“If the Medical Center gets what it wants, we’re talking about a six to seven month delay just to have the Court of Appeals consider something that Judge Mincey has already ruled on,” said Howell.
Howell says they want to get this issue solved soon, because the more they wait, the more members the club will lose. Judge Mincey said he will reserve on the hospital’s appeal. Macon Health Club is hoping to present its case to a jury within the next few weeks.
As for plans for the club, if it remains closed, Navicent Health said, “We do not have any immediate plans for the building. The entity that named itself Macon Health Club, Inc. in January of this year is claiming a right to lease the gym, and we cannot make any plans or commitments while the litigation is pending.”