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Massage Today
June, 2009, Vol. 09, Issue 06

NCBTMB vs. Florida Board of Massage Therapy Lawsuit Settled

By Christie Bondurant

In late April, swarms of massage therapists, massage school owners, spa owners, and representatives from major massage therapy associations decended upon the Crowne Plaza Universal at the Florida Board of Massage Therapy meeting.

They were all there with one issue in mind: the settlement terms of the lawsuit brought on by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCBTMB).

It all started in 2007, when the Florida Board proposed amendments to the language of the examination requirements under Rule 64B7-25.001 (see that would allow for a new application for licensure, and ultimately replace the NCBTMB exams with the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx). Nearly six months later, the NCBTMB fired back with a lawsuit (NCBTMB, Inc. vs. Department of Health, Board of Massage Therapy, Case No. 08-2604RP; Rule No. 64B7-25.001), and the two boards have been tangled in the ongoing saga ever since, until now that is.

At the meeting, only the parties involved in the lawsuit were allowed to speak. Both the Florida Board and the NCBTMB stated their cases, while the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards, the MBLEx creator, spoke as an "intervener" in the case. No one from the audience, including representatives from the Florida State Massage Therapy Association, American Massage Therapy Association and Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals, were allowed to speak. While the exclusion was unusual and caused some disapproving chatter in the audience, it was technically legitimate since the meeting was never announced as "public;" a move which may have been an effort of crowd control.

Finally, with encouragement from the Department of Health's attorney, the Florida Board agreed to the settlement terms announced earlier this year.

As reported in the March issue of Massage Today, the NCBTMB released a late January statement discussing these terms: "'The Florida Department of Health, Florida Board of Massage Therapy and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, Inc. (NCBTMB) are pleased to announce that the parties will present settlement terms to the Board that will likely resolve the administrative challenge to Rule 64B7-25.001, FAC. The compromise, when fully implemented, will allow for two approved massage therapy examination providers in Florida: the NCBTMB and the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. Under the terms of the proposed agreement, counsel for the Florida Board of Massage Therapy will bring a proposal back before the Board at its April 2009 meeting to approve both examinations.' Note: The Florida Board will still have to approve the agreement in principle at its April 2009 meeting."

The Florida Board did approve the agreement and under the settlement terms, they will accept both the MBLEx and the NCBTMB exams for a two-year period in which the case may not be revisited, meaning the MBLEx and NCBTMB exams will be administered for licensure and certification without opposition. The Florida Board plans to ammend the language soon permitting the MBLEx to be administered within the next few months.


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