CORAL SPRINGS — A Massage Envy employee inappropriately and unwelcomely touched a clients vagina during a routine massage in December 2012.
When the woman sued, the company’s lawyers responded in a surprising way.
According to Massage Envy’s lawyers, the woman should’ve known that getting a massage was akin to signing up to be sexually assaulted.
“Plaintiff expressly or impliedly assumed a risk of injury which was well known and appreciated by her,” the Massage Envy legal team wrote in an October 2013 filing in a case that was later settled out of court.
Adding, “The plaintiff conducted herself in a careless and negligent manner, and said negligence is a contributing and/or sole legal proximate cause of the injuries,” attorneys with the Kubicki Draper firm wrote in court filings.
It seems the company has a reputation, for this behavior. A recent report by Buzzfeed News shows the company covered its own tracks when more than 180 women reported rapes by Massage Envy employees during their sessions.
And a Miami New Times analysis of the court cases revealed the tactics of Massage Envy lawyers were so brutal, they revictimized the victims.
In 2011, a Fort Lauderdale woman sued the Massage Envy at 1917 Cordova Rd. because she said employee, Kamonte McNeill, sexually assaulted her in July 2010 by touching her breasts and sticking his fingers in her vagina. The woman said she had flashbacks of McNeill’s assault. He was ultimately convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison.
She said in the process of getting to the conviction, she was revictimized by the brutal methods of Massage Envy’s lawyers.
They attempted force her to undergo a mental examination, tried to get her to hand over her password and username for all social media accounts for the previous five years.
Massage Envy lawyers claimed that her activity on social media was “absolutely relevant to the subject matter” and she should have no reasonable expectation of privacy on social media.
Her lawyer argued the request was an “invasion of privacy intended to annoy, embarrass and oppress a victim of sexual assault.”
The judge sided with the lawyers and the victim had to turn over her Facebook information to Massage Envy.
In another Miami-Dade County case, a woman sued claiming that at at the end of a 90-minute massage, a Massage Envy employee in Aventura pulled her panties to the side, stuck his fingers in her vagina, grabbed her breasts, and tried to kiss her.
When she sued the company later that year, Massage Envy lawyers claimed she had “released [Massage Envy] from liability by signing a membership agreement.”
“Plaintiff was negligent and that negligence directly and proximately caused or contributed to the injuries,” attorneys with Bunnell & Woulfe in Fort Lauderdale wrote in court filings.
Massage Envy’s corporate office came out with a statement addressing the Buzzfeed story.
“Each of these incidents is heartbreaking for us and for the franchisees that operate Massage Envy locations, and we will never stop looking for ways to help our franchisees provide a safe environment at Massage Envy franchise locations,” the company said.
“The [Buzzfeed] article references 180 reported incidents. These occurred over a span of 15 plus years and 125 million massages. But, we believe that even ONE incident is too many, so we are constantly listening, learning and evaluating how we can continue to strengthen our policies with respect to handing of these issues.”
Getting a new legal team might be a good start.