The Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit against the board on behalf of Gilbert salon owner Cindy Vong, who was ordered to halt the $30 procedures using fish to nibble the dead skin from the feet of customers at her business, LaVie Nails & Spa, the East Valley Tribune, Mesa, Ariz., reported Tuesday.
Clint Bolick, the institute's director of litigation, said in a statement the board's January order halting the fish pedicures "violates Ms. Vong's freedom of enterprise under the state and federal constitutions."
"The board knows nothing about spa fish therapy, so its reaction is to shut it down," Bolick said. "The board's action is more about protecting cosmetologists from competition than it is about protecting consumers against anything except wet feet and smooth skin."
Board officials said in the January ruling that the fish therapy could be considered a health hazard because the grooming instruments -- in this case, the garra rufa and chin chin fish -- can't be sterilized as required by rules and statutes.