Judge Dismisses Ben Burris Lawsuit Over Dental Practices Act

Judge Dismisses Ben Burris Lawsuit Over Dental Practices Act
Ben Burris

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller has dismissed a lawsuit against the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners by orthodontists Dr. Ben Burris of Fort Smith and Elizabeth Gohl of Fayetteville.

Burris and Gohl sued the board members in U.S. District Court in Little Rock in an attempt to change the state law so that they and other dental specialists can provide teeth cleaning and general dentistry services. 

The board asked the court to dismiss the case in June. Burris filed the suit in May. In March, State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson (R-Benton) told Arkansas Business in March that he wanted to have the law changed.

Gohl died in August at the age of 43. She and Burris were providing teeth cleanings at a low price until the board threatened to sanction them if they don't stop because, the board argued, the Arkansas Dental Practices Act prohibits dental specialists from practicing outside their area of expertise.

Miller dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the case could be refiled later.

"Dismissal is appropriate because the issues involve the interpretation of state law," Miller wrote in the five-page order. "It appears that the state courts of Arkansas can address the dispute at issue without the need of federal intervention."

Burris might appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit.

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