Dental Examiners Board Asks Court To Toss Ben Burris Lawsuit

Dental Examiners Board Asks Court To Toss Ben Burris Lawsuit
Ben Burris

The Arkansas Board of Dental Examiners recently asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by orthodontist Dr. Ben Burris of Fort Smith.

Burris sued the board members last month in an attempt to change the state law so that he and other dental specialists can provide teeth cleaning services.

The Arkansas Dental Practices Act prohibits dental specialists from practicing outside their area of expertise.

The members of the board said in their motion to dismiss that Burris’ case should be dismissed because he should have raised the issue before the dental board.

Instead, Burris signed a consent order and voluntarily agreed “to abide by the statute he now challenges in this case,” Assistant Arkansas Attorney General Jennifer Merritt, the attorney for the board members, said in her motion to dismiss the case.

Burris said in his lawsuit that he signed the consent order and agreed to stop offering teeth cleanings because the board had threatened to revoke his dental and orthodontic licenses if he didn’t.

Burris and an orthodontist who works for him, Dr. Elizabeth Gohl, are the plaintiffs in the case and want U.S. District Judge Brian Miller to declare the Arkansas Dental Practice Act unconstitutional.

Burris and Gohl are in the process of filing a response to the motion to dismiss, said Matt Wilkins, CEO of Burris’ companies, including Braces by Burris.

“I’m pretty confident that [the dental board members] won’t win that motion to dismiss,” he said.

A bench trial is scheduled for Aug. 17, 2015.