Horowitz Law Files Lawsuit Against Five Elements Wellness Center in Broward County

by | May 14, 2024 | Firm News, Massage Therapists

Five Element Wellness Horowitz Law

On May 13, 2024, Horowitz Law filed a sexual abuse lawsuit in the Broward County Circuit Court against Five Elements Wellness Center located at 10251 W. Sample Road in Coral Springs, Florida. They also operate another location in Weston. The lawsuit was filed after a massage therapist was adjudicated guilty of sexually assaulting a female client at Five Elements in Coral Springs.

Daniel Leduc, the massage therapist named in the initial complaint, 43, was a licensed massage therapist in Florida since October 2008. An Emergency Restriction was placed on his license in October 2023 because of this crime. The Plaintiff in the lawsuit is represented by sexual abuse attorneys Adam Horowitz and Elana Goodman of Horowitz Law in Fort Lauderdale.

Allegations in the Complaint Against Five Elements Wellness Center

According to the affidavit in the criminal case, on July 20, 2023, Leduc performed a massage on a female client at Five Elements Wellness Center located at 10251 West Sample Road in Coral Springs, Florida. During the massage, Leduc allegedly massaged Plaintiff’s upper thigh, then moved to her vagina above her clothing, and then moved her underwear to the side while he proceeded to massage Plaintiff’s clitoris (without penetration) for approximately one minute. The Plaintiff reported that she “froze” in shock, but when Leduc attempted to massage her breasts, she shouted “no,” and Leduc stopped. The Plaintiff also reported that she believed during the massage that Leduc positioned his body so that the victim could feel his erect penis with the back of her hand. The Plaintiff stated that when the massage ended, she heard Leduc mumble that he hoped what happened was okay. Plaintiff didn’t respond and kept her head down until he left the room. She then left the wellness center without tipping and reported the incident to staff at Five Elements Wellness Center the following day. The Plaintiff filed a police complaint at the Coral Springs Police Department on July 22, 2023. 

On August 29, 2023, Daniel Leduc was criminally charged in Broward County with battery of a female client following a complaint to the Coral Springs Police Department. Leduc pleaded no contest to the battery charge on March 26, 2024. He was found guilty, received 12 months probation, and was ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation. He was also directed to surrender his Florida massage therapy license within thirty (30) days.

Factual Highlights:

      • On July 20, 2023, the Plaintiff went to Five Element Wellness Center to obtain acupuncture and massage treatment for therapeutic purposes. Mr. Leduc was assigned to perform her massage on that day.
      • This is the second time that the Plaintiff received massage services from Mr. Leduc and trusted that she would be safe in his treatment.
      • The Plaintiff froze and was scared for her safety. Leduc then attempted to massage the plaintiff’s breasts, in which she shouted firmly, “No!”
      • After the massage, Leduc said to the Plaintiff, “I hope that what happened was ok.”
      • When questioned, Leduc commented that he “believed he felt a connection with her” and that “he lost himself in the moment based upon the connection he thought they had and that “he believed he was doing her a favor.”
      • Mr. Leduc agreed to surrender his license voluntarily.

Counts 1: Respondeat Superior/Vicarious Liability

Defendant Five Element authorized and entrusted Mr. Leduc to be alone with Plaintiff in a darkened room while Plaintiff was undressed and in a vulnerable position. Mr. Leduc’s wrongful acts were committed in the actual or apparent course and scope of his employment or agency with Five Element. The massage services provided by Mr. Leduc benefited Five Element. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, Five Element is responsible for the reckless and intentional actions of its servant, committed in the actual or apparent scope of his duties. 

Count 2: Negligent Hiring

Five Element failed to exercise reasonable care to protect the Plaintiff from sexual battery and lewd and lascivious acts committed by its agent or employee, Mr. Leduc. Specifically, Five Element failed to properly vet Mr. Leduc by conducting a thorough investigation into his past employment and his background. 

Count 3: Negligent Retention

Five Element owed a duty to Plaintiff to use reasonable care to ensure her safety, well-being, and comfort while she obtained spa services at its establishment. These duties encompassed the retention of its massage therapists, including Mr. Leduc. Defendant retained Mr. Leduc without any limitations on his employment, took no meaningful action to protect any of his clients from sexual assault, and placed Plaintiff in a vulnerable position on the massage table in a dark room alone with Mr. Leduc where she was sexually assaulted by him. 

Count 4: Negligent Supervision

Five Element owed a duty to Plaintiff to use reasonable care to ensure her safety, care, and well-being while she was obtaining spa services at its establishment. These duties encompassed the supervision of its massage therapists, including Mr. Leduc. Defendant breached these duties by failing to exercise reasonable care to protect Plaintiff from sexual battery and lewd and lascivious acts committed by its agent or employee, Mr. Leduc. 

Count 5: Negligent Policies & Protocols

Five Element owed a duty to Plaintiff to use reasonable care to ensure her safety, care, and well-being while she was on their premises to obtain massage therapy services. Defendant had a duty to implement reasonable policies and procedures to protect its guests, particularly with respect to a person employed on Defendant’s premises who was placed in a position of control over a vulnerable guest and was in a position to do intentional harm to that guest. Defendant breached its duty of care by failing to act as a reasonable and prudent business operator would have under the same or similar circumstances 

Attorney Adam Horowitz, who represents the victim in this case, states:

“We’re grateful that this brave victim is exposing an abuser and those who hired him. It’s important to remember that this is at least the second allegation against Daniel Leduc and that he pleaded ‘no contest’ to a criminal charge. It is possible that he may win the trust of other women in the future and assault them, too. That’s what our client is working to prevent. While Leduc cannot be a massage therapist in Florida anymore, we worry that he’ll just move somewhere else and hurt more women. So it’s crucial that any others who saw, suspected, or suffered his violations keep coming forward.  We’re convinced that every time an assault survivor takes legal action, she is sparing another vulnerable person from harm. We applaud our courageous client and hope that others will be inspired and motivated to report their abuser.”

Horowitz Law has filed numerous sexual assault lawsuits against massage therapists on behalf of clients who were sexually assaulted during massages at day spas and resorts. If you have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual battery during a massage, or if you know someone who has, please contact our law firm at 888-283-9922 or send an e-mail to sexual abuse lawyer Adam Horowitz at [email protected] for a free consultation.