A series of legal maneuvers is stalling attempts by the Academy of Health Services Marketing to officially secede from the American Marketing Association as its healthcare subsidiary.
The controversy began earlier this month when the marketing association filed a lawsuit against the AHSM and its executive director, Carla Windhorst. Both organizations are headquartered in Chicago.
The complaint, filed June 2 in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court, alleges that in their quest to become autonomous, the AHSM and Ms. Windhorst engaged in unfair competition, misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract.
Two restraining orders have been issued in the case. On June 3, Circuit Court Judge Everette Braden issued a temporary restraining order restricting the AHSM from conducting business operations and from using the association's name and service acronym pending the outcome of the lawsuit. On June 14, Circuit Court Judge Robert Ericsson barred the American Marketing Association from using the academy's logo or acronym and returned files and certain monies to the academy until the outcome of the trial, which is scheduled to begin Aug. 8.
Meanwhile, the AHSM has changed its name to the Alliance for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing. The organization said it was reorganizing to reflect the changing role of marketing professionals in the healthcare industry.
The AHSM's Ms. Windhorst told MODERN HEALTHCARE that the American Marketing Association had known and approved of the academy's plans to become an autonomous organization since October 1993, when the academy first approached the association's board on the subject.
Although Ms. Windhorst acknowledged the AHSM's intent to become autonomous, she said she had hoped to continue to have a close working relationship with the association.
Dennis Jorgensen, the American Marketing Association's chief operating officer, said his group's interest "is in the protection of the property, assets and rights of our members." He declined to comment further on the case.
While both sides attribute their actions to a desire to protect their members' interests, the entire issue may boil down to money.
The AHSM comprises 3,000 members, each paying about $205 in annual dues to the association. Leaving the American Marketing Association would create a $615,000 void in the marketing association's annual budget.
The marketing association also claims the AHSM has an outstanding balance of approximately $282,000 for non-reimbursed advances, according to the complaint. The association typically advances money to the AHSM to pay for its administrative expenses, including salaries and operating costs.
The American Marketing Association, which has a national membership of 40,000, formed the AHSM in 1980. It was incorporated as a not-for-profit subsidiary in December 1984.