Man Sues Gym in Wife's Death

NEW YORK, June 29, 1999 -- A Long Island man has filed a $320 million lawsuit against a Manhattan health club, claiming it "recklessly" prescribed nutritional supplements that caused the death of his 37-year-old wife, who had joined the club to lose weight.

Anne Marie Capati, a fashion designer, suffered a stroke and died Oct. 1, 1998 while working out at Crunch Fitness, 404 Lafayette St.

Her husband, Donald Hanson, of Huntington, said in the suit that his wife had informed gym personnel that she was taking prescription medication for high blood pressure. 

Despite that, the suit charges, her personal trainer "gave her improper and dangerous instrucitons for working out and taking various drugs and failed to warn her about the risks of these drugs."

Among the supplements recommended in a hand-written list supplied by her trainer was ephedra, a stimulant that the Food and Drug Administration is studying in at least 38 deaths across the country, the suit alleges.

The suit says that Ms. Capati took the supplements for several months, including the morning of Oct. 1.  Later that day, while working out at the gym, she complained of feeling ill.  A few minutes later, she suffered a hypertensive stroke.  She died later that day.  Ms. Capati was the mother of two young children.

The club denied the charges and said its personal trainers are prohibited from recommending or prescribing nutritional supplements.