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Healthy Inspirations owner facing hearing

August 09, 2006

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Attorney General Darrell McGraw recently filed suit in Berkeley County Circuit Court alleging that Brian Griffith, owner of the Healthy Inspirations weight-loss club, is running from his obligations to the state of West Virginia.

A hearing is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. before Judge David Sanders at the Berkeley County Courthouse in Martinsburg to determine whether the state should be granted a judgement against Griffith for defaulting on the settlement agreement he signed with McGraw's office.

Last year, Griffith, of Woodstock, Va., agreed to reform the business practices of his Healthy Inspirations centers in Charles Town, W.Va., and Martinsburg in response to McGraw's investigation. Griffith also agreed to make full refunds to eight consumers whom McGraw's office alleged were misled by Griffith.

Griffith allegedly defaulted on the agreement after paying only $550 and currently owes approximately $5,900 to the state. He also closed both West Virginia locations, leaving unfulfilled obligations to other consumers who paid in advance for Healthy Inspirations memberships.

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McGraw's office began an investigation in 2004 after learning that Griffith allegedly published notices that he was conducting a child obesity study and seminar, and invited consumers to attend a program at the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center in Shepherdstown, W.Va. While he promised that qualified children would be selected to participate in a free eight-week program, those who attended were instead allegedly subjected to a high-pressure sales presentation to buy memberships to Healthy Inspirations.

The investigation also disclosed that Healthy Inspirations was allegedly violating a range of W.Va. consumer- protection laws, including failing to furnish consumers with proper notice of their three-day right to cancel and charging consumers unlawful collection fees, attorney's fees and additional charges if they failed to make payments by electronic-funds transfer.

Anyone wishing to file a complaint about a consumer matter or to alert the attorney general about unfair or deceptive practices may call the Consumer Protection Hot Line at 1-800-368-8808 or may obtain a complaint form at www.wvs.state.wv.us/wvag.

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