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Massage Today
December, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 12

From the Publisher: "Olson's Lawsuit" Update*: AMTA Faces Possible Court Sanctions

Massage Today Attorney Serves Notice

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h)

Less than two months after the judge's decision to dismiss most of the Steve Olson's lawsuit* against Massage Today,1 the AMTA was served with notice that Massage Today (MT) intends to seek sanctions against the organization.

The notice was sent to AMTA's attorney on October 29, 2001, citing Judge George W. Lindberg's recent dismissal order as its basis.

Massage Today's legal counsel Rick Cigel explains the seriousness of this action:

"Sending a sanctions notice is a serious action that was not done lightly. The federal rules that govern lawsuits require that a party have proper factual and legal grounds before filing a suit. The court's ruling confirms our view that this lawsuit never had proper grounds and should never have been filed.

"This letter notifies AMTA of our intention to request that the court impose a fine against AMTA. The motion will be based on the contention that AMTA's entire lawsuit was filed in violation of Rule 11, the specific federal rule that penalizes parties who file groundless lawsuits."

The notice will be followed by a motion requesting Judge Lindberg award Massage Today its legal expenses, based on the final outcome of the lawsuit. This means that should MT prevail, AMTA members would be paying for the legal expenses of both parties, a figure that will likely exceed $200,000 should the case go all the way to trial.


* Publisher's Note: It is becoming increasingly obvious that this lawsuit is not really between the AMTA and Massage Today. We continue to be contacted by AMTA members and leaders who neither agree with nor support the lawsuit initiated by former president Steve Olson.2 So much so, that they have begun referring to it as "Olson's Lawsuit," based not only on Mr. Olson's refusal to discuss the issue prior to filing the lawsuit but also on his rejection of MT's offer to buy the mailing list, and his recent effort to convince the board to continue, even in the face of having 80% of the claims dismissed by the judge before any evidence was heard.1


It has also become obvious that Mr. Olson is not interested in revealing the details of his lawsuit to AMTA members. Those members who find that MT is their only source of information are not alone.

Massage Today believes that all AMTA members have a right to know what is happening with this lawsuit, and how their dues money is being spent. But AMTA members are not alone. All massage therapists have the right to all of the information that comes forth from an action such as this. MT will continue to present the details of Olson's Lawsuit for the benefit of those interested. In addition, we will publish information arising from the litigation that is important for readers to know.

While it is still early in the discovery process, there are at least three important pieces of information that have been admitted under oath in the AMTA's written responses to questions asked by Massage Today's attorneys:

  1. Through the end of September, Olson's Lawsuit has already cost AMTA members "approximately $30,000 to date."3 (This is before discovery expenses. The remaining part of Olson's Lawsuit will be much more expensive. Should the AMTA be required to pay Massage Today's legal expenses as well as their own, this could cost AMTA members $200,000 or more. This would be equivalent to the amount of money the AMTA planed to spend on all of their legal efforts to create favorable legislation for massage therapy.)
  2. It has also been revealed: "The AMTA has lost members as a result of the lawsuit."4 This admission puts the long-term cost of Olson's Lawsuit much higher, effecting the organization for many years to come. Members are apparently voting against the lawsuit with their feet.
  3. The last statement is the most surprising: "AMTA has never claimed that it 'copyrighted' its members' names."5 This admission came in response to a question from MT regarding whether the AMTA had members' permission to copyright their names and addresses. This response under oath supports what Massage Today has insisted from the beginning; that the AMTA can not legally copyright its member's names and addresses.6 Now that the AMTA has finally admitted this, what is left to argue in Olson's Lawsuit? It should be noted that these statements were made under oath prior to Steve Olson's efforts to convince the AMTA board to continue his lawsuit at the annual meeting. It would be interesting to know if Mr. Olson revealed this last admission to the AMTA board members or continued to keep them in the dark.

While it may be Olson's Lawsuit, it still involves the needless wasting of members' dues money. This is in addition to the many important things that could be accomplished for the profession by the AMTA and Massage Today working together.

It's not Olson's association and it's not his money. (One can only wonder how he might act if Steve Olson and his followers knew they would be forced to compensate the AMTA for all expenses if he lost his lawsuit.) If you're an AMTA member, it's your money, and you have a right to decide how Steve Olson and his followers spend it:

Call the home office at 847-864-0123 and leave Steve Olsen a message.

Fax him a letter at: 847-864-1178.

Send him an e-mail at: .

This is an important time to express yourself and let your voice be heard.

References

  1. Most of AMTA lawsuit thrown out of court. Massage Today, October 2001. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/10/06.html.
  2. "AMTA lawsuit: lots of letters & e-mail." Massage Today, July 2001. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/07/05.html.
  3. Plaintiff's Answers to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories. Page 5, question 5c.
  4. Plaintiff's Answers to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories. Page 5, question 5d.
  5. Plaintiff's Answers to Defendant's First Set of Interrogatories. Page 10, question 13.
  6. Who owns your name? U.S. district court to decide. Massage Today, June 2001. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/06/15.html.

 

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