The attorneys at Laffey, Bucci & Kent have filed a major new lawsuit against Massage Envy. In a new complaint filed on August 27, 2018, our attorneys represent the claims of 11 Florida women who say they were sexually assaulted during massage sessions at 9 franchise locations:
- Fort Lauderdale
- Spanish River
- Royal Palm Beach
- West Boca
- West Palm Beach
New Florida Massage Envy Sexual Assault Lawsuit
While each woman’s experience is unique, they all describe similar scenarios. Some went to Massage Envy for an hour of relaxation. Others, like one woman with chronic spinal pain, went to receive therapeutic massages for medical problems.
They all expected to receive professional service, to be treated, in a vulnerable situation, unclothed on a massage bed, with dignity and respect. None expected to be violated by their massage therapists. But they allege that they were. They were touched inappropriately. They were exposed in a sexual manner without their consent. Several say they were digitally penetrated, violated in the starkest of terms by their massage therapists.
Lawsuit: Massage Envy “Failed To Provide Basic Safety”
This needs to stop, and survivors of sexual assault deserve to have their voices heard. Massage spa businesses, including Massage Envy, has a duty to protect its customers from the risk of harm. Yet, in our new Florida lawsuit, our clients allege that the company has utterly violated its duty, by creating internal policies that embolden sexual predators, rather than protect female clients.
“Massage Envy not only failed to provide basic safety to clients in a most vulnerable setting, but it systematically and intentionally conspired and concealed the rampant problem of massage therapists at Massage Envy franchise locations sexually assaulting customers throughout the country.”
We are in awe of the courage of these 11 women, who have bravely come forward to demand change at Massage Envy. In court documents, the plaintiffs take a strong stand against Massage Envy, which we allege has put profits before people by creating a culture in which sexual abuse complaints are ignored, allowing dangerous sexual predators to remain employed.
Reach Out To Learn More
We would implore other women who may have experienced similar abuse to step forward and join these women in their fight. We believe you, and we believe your story deserves to be told.
The women are being represented by Brian Kent, Esq. of Laffey, Bucci & Kent and our co-counsel, Jennifer Lipinski, Esq., at Gordon & Doner, a plaintiffs’ law firm in Florida. If you or a loved one were assaulted by a Florida-area Massage Envy therapist, reach out to our experienced sexual assault attorneys for a free consultation. You are not alone.
National Litigation Grows With New Florida Lawsuit
Our newest Massage Envy lawsuit builds on the strong allegations we have leveled against the national massage spa chain in Pennsylvania and California.
On August 20, 2018, our attorneys filed suit against the company in a California state court, presenting the allegations of 6 women from Los Angeles and San Francisco, all of whom claim to have been sexually assaulted by Massage Envy-employed therapists.
In Pennsylvania, we filed some of the first sexual assault lawsuits against Massage Envy, taking the company and a franchise owner on for hiring and continuing to employ James Deiter, a man who pled guilty in 2016 to molesting his clients.
Now, this valuable work has taken root in Florida, where 11 women have already stepped forward to share their stories with the world in civil court documents.
An Epidemic Of Sexual Assault
Why has this problem taken a national scope? Thanks to the landmark reporting of Katie J.M. Baker at Buzzfeed News, we now know that at least 180 women have accused Massage Envy masseuses across the country of sexual assault. Because sexual assault is a severely underreported crime, we believe the actual number of sexual assaults is massively higher.
That’s why we’ve chosen to call the problem of sexual assault at Massage Envy a true “epidemic,” because we allege that sexual assault is being allowed to occur at Massage Envy franchise locations across the nation.
Massage Envy’s “Incomprehensible” Sexual Assault Policy
In our lawsuits, representing the claims of our clients, we explain why we allege that Massage Envy’s corporate office should be held accountable for these assaults. Over the years, it is alleged that the company has crafted a truly “incomprehensible” internal policy around sexual assault, one that enables dangerous sexual predators to gain access to thousands of unsuspecting victims.
Massage Envy allegedly discourages its franchise owners from reporting sexual assault complaints to the authorities. We claim that it discourages franchise owners from going to the Florida Board of Massage Therapy. Instead, sexual abuse reports are to be handled “in-house”; franchise owners are told to conduct internal “investigations,” rather than call the police.
In reality, we allege, no internal investigations are conducted. Abusive therapists, we claim in these lawsuits, are allowed to continue working. Some are quietly transferred to new locations, where they gain access to more unsuspecting women. And, even after sexual assault reports have been lodged, it is alleged that Massage Envy managers continue to recommend dangerous sexual predators to new clients.
Sexual assault is a serious crime, one that truly shatters lives. It should be reported to the appropriate authorities immediately. We all know that, but in our lawsuits, we allege that Massage Envy instructed its franchise owners to handle complaints through concealed channels, or do nothing at all. This alleged unconscionable and cowardly strategy was all an attempt to protect the Massage Envy brand.
Protecting A Brand In Crisis
In our new Florida lawsuit, we quote one former Massage Envy employee to explain exactly why Massage Envy has adopted such an egregious sexual assault policy:
“[The internal review policy] is not in place to protect the client. It’s in place to protect the company. It’s centered around defusing the situation so the client doesn’t call the police. You don’t want cop cars showing up at your location the next day.”
Further revelations come from a former corporate employee, who describes how Massage Envy’s leadership have long feared that the national media would come to understand the national scope of the company’s sexual assault problem:
“That person recalled executives discussing what would happen ‘if someone connects the dots of how many sexual assaults have occurred across the country.’ In at least one risk management training, franchisees were told the goal when investigating claims is ‘to avoid police and keep membership.’ ”
Putting Profits Before People
With these statements on the record, the plaintiffs claim, Massage Envy’s true intentions become clear; the company’s goal has never been to protect client safety. It’s only aim is to protect the brand at all costs, plaintiffs allege. In our lawsuits, our clients argue that Massage Envy has created a corporate culture in which sexual assault is tolerated and allowed to continue without objection.
Accepting Cases for Massage Therapist Sex Assault in Florida
Currently, Laffey, Bucci & Kent represents nearly 30 women across the U.S. in connection with claims of sexual assault by massage therapists at national massage chain, Massage Envy.
Latest Florida Massage Assault News: Sarasota, Florida Massage Therapist Arrested, Other Victims Expected (February 14, 2018)
Brian Kent, firm co-founder and partner of Laffey, Bucci & Kent, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who is passionate about seeking justice on behalf of sex abuse victims across the country. Mr. Kent shows no fear or hesitation when going after large entities and big names. In 2009, he agreed to take on a child molestation case against a state court judge in Delaware, even after receiving backlash from the local legal community. The case was ultimately successful. The judge was disbarred, and Mr. Kent’s client received public acknowledgement that the abuse occurred as well as a confidential financial settlement. See Kelly v. Bradley, Case# 1:09-ev-00282-LDD, Delaware (2009).
National News: Massage Envy Sex Assault Lawsuits Make National News [Nov. 2017, Laffey, Bucci & Kent was featured in news reports across the country after a BuzzFeed report revealed over 180 women have alleged sex assault by massage therapists employed at various Massage Envy locations.]
Massage Envy Sex Assault Lawsuits in Florida (Sarasota, Tampa & Miami Area)
Currently, Mr. Kent’s firm represents 8-10 women who have come forward alleging sex assault by massage therapists who were employed at various Florida Massage Envy locations. These brave women are alleging assault at Massage Envy locations in Sarasota, Tampa and the Miami/West Palm Beach area. Visit our sex assault law library for legal info about victims’ sex assault and abuse lawsuits.
South Florida Area Massage/Spa Locations
There are numerous Massage Envy locations throughout the South Florida, Miami region:
- South Beach
- South Miami
- North Miami
- Coral Gables
- Pompano Beach
- Fort Lauderdale
Massage Envy locations in the Tampa, Sarasota area include:
- Palm Harbor
- South Tampa
- Downtown Tampa
- North Sarasota
- Midtown Sarasota
- South Sarasota
- Cape Coral
- South Fort Meyers
Sex Assault Lawsuits Against Massage Envy – Call for Witnesses to Come Forward
Mr. Kent has already filed multiple lawsuits alleging that the national chain should be held liable for sex assaults committed by massage therapists at local Massage Envy franchises. In each case, it’s being alleged that the chain suppressed reports of fondling or assault by massage therapists during massage sessions.
One of Kent’s clients, Susan Ingram, has shared her story with national news outlets. In her case, it’s alleged that the chain knew of at least one assault by the same massage therapist prior to hers.
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Florida Massage Therapist Sex Assault Lawsuits
Under the laws of Florida, business entities like a massage therapy business can be held liable for negligence. When an employee commits a crime like sex assault of a client or customer, what the business does in response is the key to prevailing in these types of cases. If the business fails to contact local law enforcement or conduct a proper investigation, it can be held liable when the same employee victimizes another client.
In a massage sex assault situation, it’s often the case that a massage therapist engaged in a pattern of conduct over the course of weeks, months or years. During this time, the number of victims naturally increases. Eventually, the conduct escalates. At what point did the employer receive reports about inappropriate conduct, and what did it do in response?
Oftentimes, victims of sex assault by a massage therapist can receive financial compensation for their mental and emotional suffering. In some instances, a claim may be made for punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish a party for particularly egregious behavior, such as failing to protect customers from a known and particularly heinous danger, like sex assault, or creating a specific environment where a sexual predator is allowed to victimize others.
About Mr. Kent’s Sex Assault Victims Law Practice – Florida Massage Assault Cases
Mr. Kent has represented victims of crime across the country in a variety of assault cases including priest abuse cases, child molestation cases and teacher/school abuse cases. His law firm, Laffey, Bucci & Kent, has the resources to handle cases across the country. Call the firm for more information. Click To Call
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