The attorneys of Laffey, Bucci & Kent have filed a major new lawsuit against Massage Envy in New Jersey, representing the claims of four women who say they were sexually assaulted during massage sessions in Mays Landing, Piscataway, Short Hills and Closter. In legal documents, our clients accuse Massage Envy of prioritizing its reputation and profits over protecting unsuspecting clients. The new case has drawn widespread media attention, with pieces featured on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Philly.com, CBS Local Philly and NBC 10 Philadelphia.
CBS Local Features Attorney Stewart Ryan On Massage Envy Lawsuits
In a spot featured on CBS3 on August 30, 2018, reporters described the suit:
“Four women are suing New Jersey Massage Envy spas, accusing them of covering up abuse. The suit was filed Thursday [August 30, 2018]. The women and their attorneys say the Massage Envy therapists groped and sexually assaulted them during massages. They accuse the company of documenting the abuse, but not reporting it to authorities.”
Experienced Laffey, Bucci & Kent trial lawyer M. Stewart Ryan is quoted, saying, “the lawsuit follows similar lawsuits that our firm has filed in California and Florida, a previous lawsuit filed here in Philadelphia, and there are additional lawsuits in various states across the country that we’re preparing to file.”
Attorney H. Nellie Fitzpatrick noted forthcoming lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Massachusetts, noting additional complaints of sexual abuse from South Carolina, Texas, New Mexico, Illinois and New York. “This lawsuit,” Fitzpatrick said, “will hopefully bring about […] transparency so we can start to build accountability and create safer places for people to go, whether not that’s Massage Envy or to a church or to a school.”
Philly.com Runs Report On Laffey, Bucci & Kent Press Conference
In an in-depth story for Philly.com, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Justine McDaniel featured detailed quotations from the complaint filed against Massage Envy, writing:
“In a suit filed Thursday in Superior Court, the women claim that Massage Envy therapists groped and digitally penetrated them during massages, and that the billion-dollar corporation ‘ has a pervasive policy of documenting these sexual assaults but not reporting them to the proper authorities,’ and discouraging victims from going to police.”
As Philly.com notes, this latest lawsuit, filed in New Jersey, comes on the heels of similar claims filed by Laffey, Bucci & Kent attorneys in California and Florida. Together, the three recent lawsuits represent the claims of 20 women who claim to have been sexually assaulted and harassed by Massage Envy therapists.
“The franchise chain continued to employ therapists suspected of sexually assaulting female customers and routinely transferred, reassigned, or rehired accused therapists at its various locations, the lawsuit alleges.
It also accuses the company of conducting ‘sham investigations’ designed to avoid finding its therapists guilty, not informing customers about sexual misconduct, and not notifying authorities or state massage therapy board officials about assault accusations.”
Philly.com continues by noting a landmark investigative report from Buzzfeed News, which documented the claims of more than 180 women who say they were assaulted at Massage Envy locations across the country. On the national scope of this problem, Laffey, Bucci & Kent attorney M. Stewart Ryan is quoted saying, “we’ve been flooded with phone calls from men and women across the country telling us of similar instances of sexual assault at Massage Envy locations.”
Laffey, Bucci & Kent lawyer Guy D’Andrea is also quoted. In his statements at the press conference, D’Andrea made clear that Massage Envy should be held accountable, describing how the massage chain attempted “to protect their name, their brand, and their profits over people who came to them.” Massage spas, according to D’Andrea, are “a prime place for a predator to prey upon people.” As Philly.com writes, “massage clients are semi-undressed or naked, are in a private room, and are often seeking to remedy stress or pain.”
NBC 10 Philadelphia Features Survivor’s Story
NBC 10 ran its own feature on the Massage Envy lawsuit, featuring an extensive interview with one of our clients. Our client, who has not been named to protect her safety and privacy, urged other survivors to “stand up” for change. “If you’re a woman, stand up taller,” she said, “because we need to be heard.”
“We’re here,” says attorney Guy D’Andrea, “to make sure that what happened to our clients in these particular cases, we safeguard against it happening to anyone else.”
New Jersey Massage Envy Sexual Assault Lawsuit
While each of the four women’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 back 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 Jersey 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 four 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.