Courthouse Club Fitness in west Salem. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)
UPDATE: This story has been updated with additional information from Oregon OSHA documents.
Courthouse Club Fitness has been fined a total of $90,000 for keeping four its Salem area gyms open in defiance of state orders intended to control rising Covid cases.
Gov. Kate Brown enacted a two-week partial shutdown of the economy that directed gyms to close beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18. Last week, Courthouse took to Facebook to announce its clubs would be staying open regardless.
John Miller, the company’s president, also issued a statement that Courthouse wouldn’t survive another closure and staying open was the most responsible thing for its members, staff and community.
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration responded a week later that it had issued citations to Courthouse for flouting the order.
Documents from Oregon OSHA show that four of Courthouse’s gyms were inspected between Nov. 19 through Nov. 24. The inspections occurred at the gyms located at 300 Glen Creek Rd. N.W., 4132 Devonshire Ct. N.E., 6250 Commercial St. S.E. and 115 McNary Estates Dr. in Keizer.
Courthouse has another location at 2975 River Road S. It’s not clear why that location was not cited.
Documents note Courthouse’s earlier social media posts about staying open and inspectors observed the locations remaining open after the order went into effect. The documents also note that employees were wearing masks, wiping down equipment and taking other steps to comply with public health guidelines.
On Nov. 20 Aaron Colmone, an inspector with the agency, met with Miller and attorney Tyler Malstrom to discuss the gym’s staying open.
“Through the discussion we were not able to reach an agreement about coming into compliance,” reads a report from Colmone.
The violations at each location were noted as being “serious” and “willful.” According to the citations, on Nov. 20 Courthouse opened the gyms and potentially exposed its employees, who were directed to continue to work, to Covid.
The agency assessed $22,500 penalties following inspections of each of its locations. That includes a $17,500 willful penalty each for being open to the public in addition to $5,000 penalties for violating “Red Warning Notices” posted at the business' locations the previous week notifying employees and the public of potential hazards.
The total penalty of $90,000 is the result of citations against four of the club's facilities. The payment is due 30 days after the citations are issued unless the owner opts to appeal.
Courthouse could face additional penalties if it continues to violate the governor’s order.
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.
SUPPORT SALEM REPORTER'S JOURNALISM - A monthly subscription starts at $5. Go HERE. Or contribute to keep our reporters and photographers on duty. Go HERE. Checks can be sent: Salem Reporter, 2925 River Rd S #280 Salem OR 97302. Your support matters.