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Appeals Court rules in favor of fish pedicure salon owner

The Arizona Court of Appeals on April 29 ruled in favor of a Gilbert nail salon owner who sued after the Board of Cosmetology prohibited her from using fish for pedicures.

The court sent the case back to Maricopa County Superior Court to hear constitutional claims she made against the board.

The lower court had dismissed the claims without discussion. The Superior Court Judge, Bethany Hicks, had also dismissed Vong’s claim that the board had no jurisdiction over fish pedicures because they didn’t meet definitions of cosmetology or nail technology under the law, but the Court of Appeals upheld that dismissal.

Clint Bolick, who heads the litigation unit of the Goldwater Institute, said Vong will now get her day in court.

Vong opened “Dr. Fish Pedicures” in 2008 and used an ancient practice of using small fish to nibble away calluses from feet.

The Board of Cosmetology found that the practice was unsanitary because it didn’t allow for the requirement that tools be disinfected after every use or thrown away if they can’t be disinfected.

Vong entered into a consent decree to close the business in 2009. She then filed suit to challenge the board’s jurisdiction.

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