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Massage Today
August, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 08

"AMTA Now Facing Over $200,000 in Federal Sanctions"

Another Offer to Settle

By Editorial Staff

From the start, there has been little desire on the part of the AMTA national leadership to avoid this lawsuit. Massage Today was never contacted directly by AMTA prior to their filing of the lawsuit.

Upon receiving a letter from their attorney, our editor, AMTA New Hampshire Chapter President Cliff Korn, NCTMB, contacted the AMTA national office before legal action was taken.

AMTA leadership refused to speak to him, insisting that the matter had "already been referred to their legal council." When the AMTA lawyer wouldn't return MT's lawyer's phone call, it was obvious that litigation, rather than resolution, was the AMTA's primary goal.

During the course of the lawsuit, there has been a very weak response to settlement opportunities by the AMTA leaders. Then AMTA President Steve Olson came to the mandatory settlement conference without even so much as an offer for Massage Today to consider. Instead, he rejected MT's offer to purchase the list at double the industry rate. Mr. Olson eventually made a completely unrealistic offer that would have taken Massage Today four years to pay off.

AMTA should have seen the writing on the wall when Judge Lindberg threw out most of its case 22 days after the failed settlement conference. MT followed that decision with a letter warning the AMTA that it would risk being sanctioned if it didn't abandon the meritless action. Still, the AMTA national leadership would not be dissuaded.

AMTA's second settlement offer was a sham because it contained the unconscionable requirement that AMTA members be forced to mail individual written requests if they wanted to continue to receive Massage Today.

Convinced that this would be unduly burdensome on the AMTA members, MT sent a counter offer that would allow AMTA members to cancel their subscription any time they wanted. The other main points of the AMTA's offer were accepted as part of Massage Today's counter offer.

AMTA rejected the counter offer and refused to allow its members to continue to receive the publication without having to ask for it in writing. AMTA's insistence also kept its members from being listed on Massage Today's online referral directory.

Now that the court has handed down its decision against the AMTA, it is time for the court to consider sanctions against the AMTA. And while it is distasteful to cause the AMTA members to spend even more of their hard-earned money on attorney fees, AMTA's leadership was warned of this inevitable outcome many times throughout the course of this dispute.

Massage Today is willing to make one more effort to at least settle the monetary sanctions that may be awarded against the AMTA. A settlement could save AMTA and its members a substantial amount of money and the humiliation of being formally sanctioned by a federal judge.

Unfortunately, like many AMTA members, Massage Today has lost faith in the AMTA's national leadership. It is impossible for MT to believe that they have the best interest of their members at heart after watching them spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of members' money just to keep a portion of their members from receiving a free publication and enjoying referrals from Massage Today's "Find a Massage Therapist" website directory.

As one former AMTA member stated in an angry letter to AMTA national headquarters:

"So why are you wasting our dues filing what I consider a frivolous and baseless lawsuit? Why are we fighting among ourselves? How will that help the profession? It would be like me complaining that some other massage therapist "stole my client." The truth is I don't "own" any clients. Clients who come to me or my clinic have the right to freely choose their therapist. I should be allowed to choose also."

Massage Today has offered to meet with no less that seven AMTA state chapter presidents in a closed-door meeting to negotiate a settlement of the monetary sanctions that MT will be requesting from Judge Denlow in the next 60 days. To make this meeting meaningful, these chapter presidents must be chosen by a vote of all of the AMTA state chapter presidents, and must be empowered to settle the sanctions at the meeting. In the further interest of saving AMTA membership money, this will be a "no attorneys allowed" meeting. It is our belief that the chapter presidents enjoy a much closer relationship with the AMTA members and will therefore better reflect the wishes of their constituents.

Should the AMTA wish to take advantage of this opportunity, this offer must be accepted immediately.

There is still a chance to end this situation peaceably. It is a sad state when the largest association in the profession is at war with the profession's largest publication.

If you are an AMTA member and have an opinion in this matter, you are encouraged to make your thoughts known:

  • Call the AMTA home office to express your opinion at 847-864-0123;
  • Fax a letter to: 847-864-1178;
  • E-mail your thoughts to: ;

Mail your comments to:

American Massage Therapy Association
820 Davis Street, Suite 100
Evanston, IL 60201-4444

Remember, this is your association, and your voice is important.


Publisher's note: If you don't feel you have enough information on this issue, ask the AMTA for copies of the documents exchanged between AMTA and MT. Most important to consider is AMTA's settlement offer dated March 1, 2002, MT's counter offer dated March 7, 2002, a copy of Judge Lindberg's Order dismissing most of the AMTA's original lawsuit, MT's sanction letter dated October 25, 2001 and a copy of the Order granting Massage Today summary judgment.

It is MT's belief that every member has a right to these documents, as it is their dues money that paid for them. If the AMTA refuses to let you see these documents, you may contact me directly at: and we will make sure you have copies.

  1. AMTA sues to prevent members from receiving free benefits. Massage Today, June 2001. http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/06/04.html
  2. Who owns your name? U.S. District Court to decide. Massage Today, June 2001. http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/06/15.html
  3. Most of AMTA lawsuit thrown out of court. Massage Today, October 2001. http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/10/06.html
  4. AMTA faces possible court sanctions. Massage Today, December 2001. http://www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/12/13.html

For more on the AMTA lawsuit vs. Massage Today, see AMTA Leadership Loses Lawsuit and Lawsuit Timeline in this issue.

 

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