The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis on Friday ruled in favor of Dr. Ben Burris of Fayetteville, sending his case challenging whether an orthodontist can provide general dental services back to a lower court.
"Now Dr. Burris' case will go back down to the District Court, and we can proceed on the merits," said attorney Matt Miller, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, which is handling the case. "But if we had lost, the case would have effectively been over."
Burris, an orthodontist, wanted to provide a teeth-cleaning service to patients, but to do so would violate the Arkansas Dental Practice Act. The act says that orthodontists and other dental specialists can't provide any services outside their specialization, even though they are licensed dentists and have received the same training as dentists.
Burris challenged the act last year by suing the Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners in federal court in Little Rock. But the board asked U.S. District Judge Brian Miller to dismiss the case, which he did in November 2014. The 8th Circuit reversed Miller's ruling.
"The delay was unfortunate, but Dr. Burris has a strong constitutional case," attorney Matt Miller said. "We're happy that it's going to proceed on the merits."