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Massage Today
September, 2002, Vol. 02, Issue 09

Publisher's Report: AMTA Letter Lies

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

On July 22, 2002, AMTA President Carolyn Talley wrote a letter5Massage Today.1,2,3 announcing that the AMTA had lost its lawsuit against In that letter, Ms.

Talley made the following statement:

"However, in a court hearing on July 11, the judge also commented that from a business ethics stand point, MPAmedia should not have done what it did."

A review of the transcript from the court hearing shows that Judge Denlow never made the statement that "MPAmedia (Massage Today's publisher) should not have done what it did," nor did Judge Denlow ever accuse Massage Today's publishers of any violation of business ethics.

The closest statement Judge Denlow did make was in response to a statement made by AMTA attorney Gene Hansen. Read contextually, the transcript shows the following:

MR. HANSEN: We (AMTA) have, I think it may be clear from the documents, we also sell mailing lists of members, or rent them, more accurately, as does the defendant (Massage Today).

THE COURT (JUDGE MORTON DENLOW): Right, and look, I have no problem with your client (AMTA) seeking to capitalize on that and the information it's created, but I think the real question for me is not whether the defendant (Massage Today) was fair in the sense of taking something, taking somebody's hard work, but whether they violated the copyright law here. So while you and I may agree that it was probably not the best thing to do, I mean that it would have been nice if they paid your client some money, the question of whether or not they violated the law may be a different question from business ethics or anything else you want to call it.

Judge Denlow made his decision against the AMTA in summary judgment. Summary judgment is only granted when a party will prevail before the judge even when their case is viewed "in a light most favorable to the non-movant,"4 in this case, the AMTA. The fact that Judge Denlow issued his decision in just eight days from the court hearing clearly demonstrates that he was not hesitant about his decision.

MT's attorney Rick Cigel, Esq. comments:

"AMTA's statement is untrue. A simple reading of the court transcript shows that the judge did not make the comment about Massage Today. To the contrary, in granting Massage Today's motion, the Court dismissed AMTA's claims through a finding that no triable issues of fact exist. This means that the Court concluded that AMTA did not even have a right to present its claims at trial. Massage Today has maintained throughout this lawsuit that AMTA's claims were baseless. The Court's ruling completely vindicates Massage Today.

"AMTA's statement is exactly the type of thing that Massage Today has had to tolerate from the AMTA throughout this litigation. Instead of admitting that the AMTA doesn't want its members to receive any other publication or communication but its own, the AMTA has worked overtime to convince its members that they need to be protected from the 'dangers' of a free publication.

"AMTA filed a similar lawsuit against the ABMP just eight years earlier in an effort to bully that organization. Having soundly lost this suit, and now facing a motion for sanctions, the AMTA is attempting to distract the profession from the real issue by putting words in Judge Denlow's mouth. The Court's comment about Massage Today paying "your client some money" seems to refer to the fact that the AMTA refused payment from Massage Today in the August 7, 2001 settlement conference.

"Copyright means ownership and control. There is no other way to define it. The AMTA wants to be the only ones who can communicate with its members and rent the names. It wants to control what the members can and cannot read.

"If AMTA wants to make direct accusations about Massage Today, it should have the courage to put its name behind the words. Instead, the AMTA tried to claim that Judge Denlow made the statement. AMTA President Carolyn Talley apparently forgot that every word being said in court was being recorded and would be available in the official transcript."5

Interestingly enough, AMTA president Carolyn Talley was apparently not in the courtroom during the hearing. The only known AMTA representatives present were attorney, Mr. Gene Hansen and executive director, Elizabeth Lucas. It may be important for AMTA members to know how and why the libelous statement was included in Ms. Talley's letter.

In an effort to resolve this situation without further dispute, Massage Today has sent a letter asking the AMTA to issue a retraction and apology. Ms. Talley's letter has already been mass e-mailed and broadcast faxed to "all members of the Board of Directors, National Committee Chairs and Chapter Presidents," republished in various state chapter communications and placed on the AMTA website. In addition, the statement was apparently released to Massage Magazine and may even be published in the next (Fall) issue of the Massage Therapy Journal.

MT has asked that the AMTA's retraction and apology be faxed, e-mailed, published on the AMTA's website and issued for publication to Massage Magazine, the Massage Therapy Journal and Massage Today in a manner and to an extent that will rectify the injustice caused by the libelous statement.

Unlike the AMTA leadership who started this litigation, Massage Today is very willing to discuss this issue with the AMTA. Should the AMTA choose to handle this through its attorney, MT has instructed Mr. Cigel to accept and return all phone calls from AMTA's legal counsel.

  1. AMTA leadership loses lawsuit. Massage Today August 2002. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2002/08/07.html
  2. AMTA now facing over $200,000 in federal sanctions. Massage Today August 2002. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2002/08/08.html
  3. Lawsuit timeline. Massage Today August 2002. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2002/08/09.html
  4. Memorandum Opinion and Order. Magistrate Judge Morton Denlow. July 19, 2002.
  5. A copy of the AMTA's letter and the court transcript are available for review at www.massagetoday.com/amtalied

 

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