Orlando, Fla. - January 30, 2015 - The Health Law Firm recently served a class action lawsuit against the Florida College of Natural Health, on behalf of licensed massage therapists. This is a development in the 2012 human trafficking allegations. The complaint alleges more than 200 massage therapy students were victimized by the school when it covered up a scheme to defraud the professionals out of money and, ultimately, their licenses to practice. The lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, in and for Orange County, Florida.According to court filings, the Florida College of Natural Health's "rogue registrar" devised a scheme that targeted mainly Asian women and men, who spoke little English and needed assistance transferring credits from out-of-state schools to the Florida College of Natural Health. For six years, the registrar met with more than 200 students instructing them to pay required fees, and then gave the plaintiffs fraudulent certificates of completion and diplomas. The registrar was acting within the scope of her employment and authority when she issued the falsified diplomas to the plaintiffs, according to the complaint.The Florida College of Natural Health registrar kept the fees paid by the applicants and did not actually enroll them in the school. The lawsuit alleges that upon discovery of the fraud, the school bypassed reporting the criminal activities to authorities in the interest of protecting its own accreditation and reputation. Instead, the school reported the victims to the Florida Department of Health claiming they were involved in human trafficking and fraud, in collusion with the registrar. Because of the claims, the Florida Department of Health issued emergency suspension orders, administrative complaints, and disciplinary actions against the licenses of the massage therapists. These actions not only eliminated the massage therapists' ability to practice in their field, but also caused them to incur significant costs related to their legal defense. "Essentially, the registrar took advantage of these victims, knowing they were unfamiliar with the school's enrollment system," said the plaintiffs' attorney, George F. Indest III, President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm. "In the end, our clients were treated like scapegoats and accused of illegal activity, without basis, damaging their careers."The rogue registrar, in effect, embezzled the money. Then the actions of the college victimized the massage therapists again by falsely claiming that they knowingly purchased fraudulent diplomas and course completion certificates. The Florida College of Natural Health fired the registrar. However, records indicate that no criminal charges were ever filed. The Health Law Firm plans to prove the Florida College of Natural Health is responsible for the actions of its employee. The lawsuit seeks to represent all massage therapists who fell victim to the registrar's scheme and subsequently lost the ability to practice massage therapy. The Health Law Firm will seek damages for these individuals. This case is Dong Fend Zhou, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, and Shiying Peng individually and on behalf of all other similarly situated Plaintiffs v. FCNH, Inc., a Florida for profit corporation, d/b/a Florida College of Natural Health; Steiner Education Group, Inc., a Florida for profit corporation; Steiner U.S. Holdings Inc., a Florida for profit corporation; and Steiner Leisure Limited, a Commonwealth of the Bahamas corporation; Defendants. For more information about The Health Law Firm, visit www.thehealthlawfirm.com. For downloadable, printable photographs, visit www.thehealthlawfirm.com/resources/online-press-kit.html.
About The Health Law FirmThe Health Law Firm was established in 1999, bringing together a team of experienced attorneys with decades of work in the legal and healthcare fields. With offices in Florida and Colorado, the firm represents healthcare providers, including hospitals, nursing homes, physicians, dentists, mental health professionals and other licensed health professionals and entities. For more information about The Health Law Firm, visit www.thehealthlawfirm.com.For additional information contact:
Director of Communication
The Health Law Firm
Office: (407) 331-6620, ext. 228
George F. Indest III