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Posted in In the News on December 8, 2017   |  by Gary Burger

Sexual Assault at Massage Envy

My client and I were recently interviewed by a reporter from BuzzFeed for a piece on the climate of harassment at Massage Envy.

We represented a client in a sexual assault case against Massage Envy. She went to a local franchise for a massage, fell asleep on the table, and woke up to the masseur sexually abusing her. My client reported the assault to the assistant manager at that Massage Envy location, but the company never spoke with her about the incident. Only after she filed a police report did Massage Envy take notice—but even then, they did not acknowledge what their employee did or seem to care about what happened.

Displeased with their response, we filed a lawsuit against the masseur, the franchisee, and the chain. After significant litigation, the matter was resolved to our client’s satisfaction.

Incredibly, Buzzfeed found that over 180 women have reported sexual assaults after patronizing Massage Envy. Not nearly as many women have pursued legal claims, however, because it is hard to do so for many reasons. Assault victims are often shocked after the abuse and unsure where to turn. Even if a case is filed, prosecutors have limited resources and not as many lawyers pursue these claims properly—not to mention civil cases sometimes face aggressive defenses.

I am proud my client stood up to Massage Envy, sued them, got a great result, and then spoke to the reporter to provide key information for the story.

Both women and men need to know about companies like Massage Envy to ensure that they are safe and protected. Unfortunately, national massage chains have expanded without proper regulations to protect their clients from sexual predators. Yet massage chains promise nonetheless that their masseurs and masseuses will treat clients with care, respect, and safety. They even make people fill out medical history questionnaires that include a wealth of personal information, as if they are a medical patient.

In our lawsuit, we learned that Massage Envy did not vet their employees, perform background checks, or take steps to make sure that their clients were safe. Furthermore, they did not investigate charges of misconduct like they should have. The corporation’s continued dereliction of duty is shown by 180 assaults on women. Here's a USA Today piece on the issue.

Moreover, this corporation did not make sure their franchisees were conducting themselves lawfully. In November 2017, the St. Louis Massage Luxe owner Todd Beckman pled guilty to kidnapping and drug dealing as reported here.

If you have any questions about a claim against Massage Envy or for sexual assault, please contact us.