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ASSOCIATED BODYWORK & MASSAGE PROFESSIONALS v. AME

September 1, 1995

ASSOCIATED BODYWORK AND MASSAGE PROFESSIONALS, a Colorado corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERICAN MASSAGE THERAPY ASSOCIATION, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES RONALD NORGLE, SR.

 CHARLES R. NORGLE, SR., District Judge:

 Before the court is the motion of Defendant American Massage Therapy Association ("AMTA") to dismiss the complaint of Associated Bodywork pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the motion is granted as to Counts II and IV; because Plaintiff's federal claims are dismissed, the court sua sponte declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Counts I and III.

 I. Background

 Plaintiff Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals is a for-profit corporation whose stated purpose is the assistance of massage therapy professionals in the advancement of massage therapy as a profession. At all times material to this case, Plaintiff was a business of good name and reputation, enjoying high esteem both from the public in general and within the massage therapy industry. Defendant is a not-for-profit organization. Through its Government Relations Committee, Defendant contacts various state legislatures across the nation and recommends the enactment of regulatory schemes for the practice of massage therapy.

 Defendant has also created the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork ("NCBTMB"), as Defendant's administrative affiliate, to supervise certification of massage therapists. The Commission on Massage Therapy Training Accreditation/Approval ("COMTTA") evaluates massage therapy schools and education programs as a self-run affiliate of Defendant. Several state legislatures have approved both NCBTMB and COMTTA programs as part of their massage therapy regulatory schemes.

 Through its Government Relations Committee, Defendant routinely distributed literature to legislators of various states, advocating the adoption of massage therapy regulation. The advocated regulations provide, in part, that massage therapists (1) participate in massage therapy training programs which have been accredited by an independent accrediting body (such as COMTTA), (2) receive certification from a national certification program similar to the NCBTMB's, and (3) belong to a recognized national professional society. In detailing this third recommended regulation, membership in a recognized national professional society, Defendant's literature states, in part:

 
Closely-held, for-profit enterprises such as the Associated Bodyworkers and Massage Professionals of Colorado would be excluded from the professional membership qualification. Unfortunately, a private organization provides a loophole model too easily adapted to the service of organized crime.

 (Compl. Ex. A.)

 Plaintiff's complaint contains four counts: Count I alleges a state law libel claim based on the above quotation; Count II alleges violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1 (1964); Count III alleges violation of the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, 815 ILCS 510 (1966); and Count IV alleges violation of the Organized Crime Control Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ("RICO"), 18 U.S.C. § 1961.

 On a motion to dismiss, all well-pleaded factual allegations are presumed to be true. Land v. Chicago Truck Drivers, 25 F.3d 509, 511 (7th Cir. 1994). The court must view those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, Gould v. Artisoft, Inc. 1 F.3d 544, 546 (7th Cir. 1993), and accept all reasonable inferences to be drawn from those allegations as true, Meriwether v. Faulkner, 821 F.2d 408, 410 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 935, 98 L. Ed. 2d 269, 108 S. Ct. 311 (1987). However, the court is not constrained by the plaintiff's legal characterizations of its allegations. Republic Steel Corp. v. Pa. Eng'g Corp., 785 F.2d 174, 183 (7th Cir. 1986).

 Additionally, the court must construe the pleadings liberally, and mere vagueness or lack of detail alone will not constitute sufficient grounds to dismiss a complaint. Strauss v. City of Chicago, 760 F.2d 765, 767 (7th Cir. 1985). The complaint need not specify the correct legal theory nor point to the right statute to survive a Rule 12(b) motion to dismiss. Tolle v. Carroll Touch, Inc., 977 F.2d 1129, 1134-35 (7th Cir. 1992). Rather, the complaint must state, either directly or inferentially, allegations establishing the necessary elements for recovery under the chosen legal theory. Glatt v. Chicago Park Dist., 847 F. Supp. 101, 103 (N.D. Ill. 1994).

 II. Antitrust Count

 In Count II of the complaint, Plaintiff contends that Defendant's efforts to influence the legislatures, in conjunction with the functioning of the NCBTMB and COMTTA, restrain trade in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1 (Supp. 1989). According to Plaintiff, Defendant AMTA, NCBTMB and COMTTA have intentionally conspired to monopolize the industry of massage therapy, thus directly restraining trade and interstate commerce in violation of the Act. Plaintiff states that they have done so state-by-state, by lobbying for and creating "certification requirements" which expressly favor Defendant and its affiliates, and by structuring these requirements to effectually exclude non-AMTA-members ...


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