Lack of Standing Prevents a Challenge to a Local Law that Requires Massage Therapists to be Licensed by the Municipality
November 04, 2019
The Appellate Division recently issued a decision that explained why a massage therapist and the American Massage Therapy Association, (AMTA), a professional organization of massage therapists, lacked standing to challenge a local law enacted by the Town of Greenburgh. At issue in Matter of American Massage Therapy Association v Town of Greenburgh was a local law that required massage therapists to obtain licenses from the Town. The local law was inapplicable to solo practitioners.
The petitioners contended that the enactment of the local law violated the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) and the Open Meetings Law. They also contended that the local law was preempted by state law.
The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of the proceeding by the trial court, noting that petitioners lacked standing to challenge the local law. First, the appellate court explained that standing requires a party to have “an interest in the claim at issue to the lawsuit that the law will recognize as a sufficient predicate for determining the issue at the litigant’s request.” More particularly, the petitioner must establish “an injury in fact that falls within the relevant zone of interests sought to be protected by law.” An injury in fact requires a showing that the petitioner “will actually be harmed by the challenged action, and that the injury is more than conjectural.” The Court also noted that an organization must demonstrate that at least one of its members has standing in order it to have standing.
As the individual petitioner was a solo practitioner and expressly exempted from coverage by the local law, the Court found that the therapist did not have standing because any supposed injury that therapist could sustain was conjectural. As to the AMTA, the Court determined that it failed to establish standing as it did not present any evidence that the individual petitioner or any other member was covered by the local law.