Blumenthal Announces Lawsuit Against Massage School

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  1. Jack_Maehoffer

    Jack_Maehoffer

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    December 16, 2005

    HARTFORD, Conn. -- State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Thursday announced a lawsuit against a now-closed massage therapy school, saying it scammed dozens of students.


    The lawsuit claims Galen Institute and its owners, James Lattanzio Jr. and his wife, Sandra, falsely advertised that the massage school was properly accredited. Because it was not accredited, students were not able to get licenses to practice massage therapy, the lawsuit says.

    "This school shortchanged students by taking their tuition and time, and falsely promising accredited training," Blumenthal said. "Instead of teaching stress relief, Galen left its students truly stressed over lost savings, wasted effort and shattered dreams."

    "This school shortchanged students by taking their tuition and time, and falsely promising accredited training. Instead of teaching stress relief, Galen left its students truly stressed over lost savings, wasted effort and shattered dreams."
    - Richard Blumenthal, State Attorney General

    Lattanzio, of Windham, said the school was legally operated and properly accredited.

    "If, in fact, all of this was true that they claim, then the commissioner has allowed it to go on since 1998," he said, referring to state Higher Education Commissioner Valerie Lewis.

    Lattanzio said that the school received reauthorization certification by the state last August, and that the school would have never been certified if it didn't meet all the conditions of state law.

    Galen Institute closed all four of its branches in New London, Willimantic, Wethersfield and Stamford this year. The Wethersfield location closed in July and the other three were shut down in October. Lattanzio said bad publicity about state enforcement actions forced him to close the branches. He said he believes he is being sued because of a lawsuit he filed against Lewis in 2002 that sought $25 million in restitution. His lawsuit, which is pending, claims Lewis singled out Galen Institute for enforcement action after a person close to Lewis' daughter was dismissed from the school in 2000. He also claims Lewis violated his right to equal protection by placing the school on probation in April 2002.

    Attempts to reach Lewis at her office and home Thursday night were not successful. No one answered the phone at the agency and her home phone number was not listed under her name.

    Lattanzio said he plans to file a defamation lawsuit next week against Blumenthal because his public comments about the school have tarnished its reputation.

    Besides false advertisement, the lawsuit alleges Galen Institute failed to pay into the state business and trade school tuition fund and illegally charged high interest on student loans. It also claims the school ran an illegal online school. The state is seeking up to $1 million in restitution for qualifying former Galen students, Blumenthal said. The former Galen students will be able to get refunds from the state tuition insurance fund but the state will seek full reimbursement from the school to the state. Blumenthal said about 100 former Galen students were affected by the closings, but Lattanzio said only 22 people were in the system when the schools stopped operation.

    Pamela Morrell, a former Galen student from Milford, said she wants a refund on the $9,600 she paid in tuition.

    "I was scammed as far as I'm concerned," she said. "I want my money back so I can go to another school."