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Baxter Baker Attorneys Achieve Significant Victory in Overturning Dental Board

Danielle M. Vranian

Several Baxter Baker attorneys were successful in overturning portions of a Final Order from the Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners, that imposed ultra vires sanctions on a Maryland dentist. The Board’s Order, issued in July 2019, imposed sanctions on the dentist based solely on his ownership interest in a Professional Corporation that owned two dental offices that were found to have violated the Dental Practice Act.  The Order was based on outdated language in the 1937 Act that defined practice of dentistry.  The dentist did not maintain a clinical practice at either office. The Board’s Final Order placed the dentist on probation for two years, subject to several ultra vires conditions.

First, the Final Order gave the Board authority to conduct unannounced inspections at any of the twenty-one (21) offices owned by the Professional Corporation, even though the Board had never received a complaint at nineteen (19) of those offices. Second, the Final Order mandated that if, at any time during the period of probation, the dentist or the Professional Corporation relinquished ownership of the two dental offices at issue, the dentist and/or the Professional Corporation must make arrangements with the subsequent owner(s) to guarantee that the Board was permitted to continue unannounced inspections at the offices.

Baxter Baker promptly filed a Petition for Judicial Review on behalf of the dentist in the Circuit Court for Howard County.  The court agreed with the dentist’s argument that the Board exceeded its statutory authority and overturned the ultra vires conditions of probation set forth in the Final Order.   This decision, along with a recent change in legislation regarding the definition of practice of dentistry, will have significant impact on other disciplinary cases based on ownership.