Local

Downtown Macon Health Club to remain closed during litigation

Members oppose Navicent Health closing Macon Health Club

Former Macon Mayor and Middle Georgia Congressman Jim Marshall and Mercer Law Professor Dave Oedel say closing the downtown institution that dates to the 19th century is wrong.
Up Next
Former Macon Mayor and Middle Georgia Congressman Jim Marshall and Mercer Law Professor Dave Oedel say closing the downtown institution that dates to the 19th century is wrong.

The downtown Macon Health Club will remain closed while the Medical Center, Navicent Health, and a group of members trying to reopen the club litigate a lawsuit that the hospital filed earlier this year.

Bibb County Superior Court Judge David Mincey had issued an order March 31 requiring the club to remain open through last weekend. The club closed April 29.

Macon Health Club Inc., a corporation formed by a group of members, filed a request for an extension through the end of May. After a hearing Friday, Mincey denied the request.

In the lawsuit filed, the hospital asked a judge to decide whether the Medical Center still is bound by terms of a 1991 agreement signed when it took over operations from Macon Health Center Inc. The agreement gave Macon Health Center Inc. an option to lease the facility if the hospital decided to close it before Dec. 13, 2020.

The hospital contends that Macon Health Center Inc. failed to remain an active corporation and cannot transfer its rights to Macon Health Club Inc. — a newer organization made up of the same people — to enforce the agreement.

The hospital has argued that Macon Health Club Inc., a group of members fighting to keep the club open, doesn’t have standing in the case and filed a motion asking a judge to rule on the issue without a jury trial.

430The number of members at the downtown Macon Health Club, according to the Medical Center, Navicent Health.

Mincey denied the motion, ruling that the matter is one for a jury to decide. Mincey also denied a motion filed by Macon Health Club that sought to block an appeal of his March 31 ruling.

Kerry Howell, an attorney representing Macon Health Club Inc., argued Friday that it could take six months or more for the appellate court to rule. As time passes, more members sign long-term gym contracts at other facilities, he said.

“All these folks we would rely on to start our business would be gone,” Howell said.

Howell also argued that the hospital’s appeal should be dismissed, and he asked Mincey to reconsider an order he signed last month that allows the appeal to proceed.

Hal Meeks, an attorney representing the hospital, argued that the hospital has a right to appeal Mincey’s March 31 order and would also have a right to appeal a revised order if Mincey issued it.

He said the hospital is consolidating wellness services it offers into one location, the Wellness Center on Northside Drive, because of the “financial drain” of the downtown gym.

My client is trying to manage its resources as best it knows how for the good of the whole community. It’s sorry that it’s disappointing a small subset of very avid, engaged members of the downtown club.

Hal Meeks, attorney for The Medical Center, Navicent Health

“My client is trying to manage its resources as best it knows how for the good of the whole community,” Meeks said. “It’s sorry that it’s disappointing a small subset of very avid, engaged members of the downtown club.”

When the hospital took over ownership of the club in 1991, there were 88 members, according to a document prepared by the hospital.

Although membership grew to include a thousand members, today there are only 430 — not enough to sustain the facility, according to the document.

Macon Health Club Inc. and the hospital engaged in mediation April 20, seeking to resolve the case without a trial, but the session ended without an agreement.

Mincey reserved his ruling about whether he will modify his ruling regarding the hospital’s appeal.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

  Comments