Thursday, May 07, 2009

Maryland Masseuse Allowed to Massage Horses Again

"Does a person even need a license to massage a horse?"

That's not a question you typically hear in a Maryland court room, but it's just one of many odd questions Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge David Boynton asked a few days ago.

On the receiving end was Grant Gerber, an attorney with the Maryland Board of Chiropractic and Massage Therapy Examiners. They're the group that told Mercedes Clemens she had to stop massaging horses or risk losing her human massaging license.

So, according to a story in the Maryland Daily Record, Clemens sued the CMTE because they are infringing on her business rights. Furthermore, the CMTE is only allowed to regulate who can massage people as part of their business. It doesn't regulate horse massage, which is why Clemens is taking legal action.

“I don’t understand why this [cease and desist] letter hasn’t already been withdrawn," Boynton said to Gerber.

In fact, Boynton said a lot of things to Gerber, and verbally pounded the poor guy for 30 minutes. But in the end, he could only "urge" the CMTE to reconsider their decision.

Gerber said the board would meet on May 14 to determine whether they will keep or drop their policy of prohibiting horse massage by their certified massage therapists. So Boynton postponed a decision and further hearing until June 2 to give the board an opportunity to change its policy and avoid a legal spanking.

According to the Daily Record, Clemens has not massaged horses since the cease-and-desist letter was written. She was "guardedly optimistic" that the CMTE would change their mind and let her resume her equine massage business, which included 30 clients, until the CMTE got all jealous and possessive.

Apparently, so did the Maryland State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, because they said that only veterinarians were allowed to massage horses. However, they changed their tune after Clemens sued them too.

But the CMTE refused to change their policy, saying any changes they made should have been made through an administrative appeal by Clemens. But rather than waiting for an insular group to go through the motions before automatically saying no, she decided to sue them instead.

Gerber told the Daily Record that an administrative hearing would have been more useful, because it would have given the board a chance to review the policy. Instead, the lawsuit "sort of limits our ability to change direction or give her a hearing."

That's sort of the point. There is only one limited ability Clemens wants you to have, and that's to say "okie dokie."

Take care of this little matter, and if you ask nicely, I'd bet Clemens would even give you a free massage and a bag of oats as a way to say thank you.

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