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Haygood v. Begue

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

February 22, 2018

RYAN HAYGOOD, DDS, ET AL.
v.
BRIAN BEGUE, ET AL.

          HORNSBY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          MEMORANDUM RULING

          S. MAURICE HICKS, JR., CHIEF JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss (Record Document 214) filed by Defendants Ross H. Dies, DDS, and Ross H. Dies, DDS, J. Cody Cowen, DDS, and Benjamin A. Beach, DDS, A Professional Dental LLC (hereinafter referred to as “Dr. Dies” or “Defendants”). Defendants seek dismissal on the grounds they are statutorily immune to suit under La. R.S. 37:791 and 42 U.S.C. § 11111; the Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices Act (“LUTPA”) claims are barred by prescription and preemption; and the complaint fails to state a claim under LUTPA upon which relief can be granted. See Record Document 214-1 at 5. Plaintiffs Ryan Haygood, DDS and Haygood Dental Care, LLC (hereinafter referred to as “Dr. Haygood” or the “Haygood Plaintiffs”) opposed the motion. See Record Document 219. For the reasons set forth below, the Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED and the Haygood Plaintiffs' LUTPA claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         The allegations in the instant suit relate to formal complaints by patients and other dentists which eventually led to an investigation and administrative proceeding wherein Dr. Haygood's dental license was revoked by the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry (“the Dental Board”). The Dental Board initially became involved because of a complaint against Dr. Haygood, claiming that he recommended extensive and expensive treatment plans after over-diagnosing/unnecessarily diagnosing patients with peridontal disease. The investigation and resulting administrative proceeding took place over a three year period.

         On November 8, 2010, at the conclusion of four days of adversarial hearings, which included the presentation of witnesses, experts and medical/dental evidence, a three-member disciplinary panel revoked Dr. Haygood's dental license and levied fines against him. This punishment was imposed due to Dr. Haygood's violations of the Dental Practice Act. See La. R.S. 37:751, et seq.

         Dr. Haygood appealed the November 8, 2010 decision of the Dental Board to the Civil District Court of Orleans Parish (“CDC”) Docket No. 2010-12060. On May 31, 2011, the CDC affirmed some of the findings, but remanded part of the case to the Dental Board due to the erroneous inclusion of charges against Dr. Haygood that were previously dismissed. In all other respects, the CDC affirmed the Dental Board's decision. Dr. Haygood appealed the portion of the May 31, 2011 decision of the CDC which was affirmed to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, Docket No. 2011-CA-1327.

         On August 29, 2011, the Dental Board issued a decision regarding the remanded portion of the suit. It again levied fines against Dr. Haygood and affirmed the revocation of his dental license in its Amended Decision After Remand. This decision was also appealed by Dr. Haygood to the CDC, which affirmed the ruling on December 9, 2011. The two decisions by the CDC (May 31, 2011 and August 29, 2011) were consolidated on appeal to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal. The Fourth Circuit vacated and remanded the Dental Board's ruling, finding that the Dental Board's independent counsel participated in the administrative hearing in dual roles as prosecutor and adjudicator in violation of Dr. Haygood's due process rights.

         The Haygood Plaintiffs brought this lawsuit against the instant Defendants, and others, on February 13, 2013, alleging damages arising from constitutional violations (42 U.S.C. § 1983) and 15 U.S.C. § 1 and § 2 (The Sherman Act), as well as Louisiana state law claims for defamation and for violations of the LUTPA (La. R.S. 51:1409 et seq.). See Record Document 1. On March 7, 2014, the Haygood Plaintiffs filed a First Supplemental, Amended and Restated Complaint, adding requests for declaratory and injunctive relief. See Record Document 100. The new grounds for relief were not directed against the instant Defendants.

         As to the instant Defendants, the Haygood Plaintiffs allege that Dr. Dies was a direct, primary competitor of Dr. Haygood in the Shreveport/Bossier community. See Id. at ¶ 89. In June 2007, the Dental Board designated Dr. Dies as their “expert” and forwarded medical records to him “ostensibly for a neutral and independent evaluation of complaints.” Id. at ¶ 92. The Haygood Plaintiffs contend that Dr. Dies knew that his evaluations would be used as evidence against Dr. Haygood and that such evaluation were “studded with inaccuracies, falsehoods, exaggerations and improper assumptions.” Id. The evaluations were used during the 2010 administrative proceedings before the Dental Board. Id.

         On March 31, 2014, this Court denied a Rule 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss filed by the instant Defendants. See Record Documents 106 & 107. The motion was denied with prejudice as to the LUTPA claims and denied without prejudice as to all other claims against the instant Defendants. See Record Document 106 at 3.

         On April 22, 2014, Defendants filed a second Motion to Dismiss, arguing that the Haygood Plaintiffs' claims under Section 1983 were prescribed or failed under Rule 12(b)(6); the Haygood Plaintiffs failed to state a claim for antitrust violations under 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 & 2; and the Haygood Plaintiffs failed to state a defamation claim under Louisiana law. See Record Document 123. Additionally, Defendants argued that Dr. Dies had absolute immunity for all claims related to his alleged role as expert for the Dental Board during the administrative proceedings against Dr. Haygood. See id.

         On March 16, 2016, this Court granted the Motion to Dismiss as to the Section 1983 claims, the Sherman Act claims, and the Louisiana state law defamation claim. See Record Documents 184 & 185. The Court held that the Section 1983 claims were prescribed and that the Haygood Plaintiffs had failed to state a claim under the Sherman Act or for defamation under Louisiana state law. See Record Document 184 at 9, 12-13 & 15. The Court also discussed immunity in its March 16, 2016 ruling:

Defendants have moved for dismissal of all claims against Dr. Dies because he has absolute immunity for the Haygood Plaintiffs' claims related to his alleged role as an expert for the Dental Board during the administrative proceedings. See Record Document 123-1 at 26-29. The immunity is based on Section 791 of the Dental Practices Act . . . . La. R.S. 37:791(A).
The Haygood Plaintiffs argued in their opposition that Section 791 proffered qualified, not absolute, immunity; that Section 791(A)(1) was inapplicable because they have alleged malice; and that Section 791(A)(2) was inapplicable because Dr. Dies knew the evaluations contained falsehoods. See Record Document 135 at 27-32. Defendants did not respond to the Haygood Plaintiffs' position regarding Section 791 immunity in their reply. See Record Document 140.
In light of the instant ruling, the Haygood Plaintiffs' . . . LUTPA . . . claims against the instant Defendants are the only remaining claims. See Record Document 106 at 3. The instant motion did not move for dismissal of the LUTPA claims and, more specifically, did not address Section 791 immunity in the context of LUTPA. Thus, this Court will not reach the issue of whether the instant Defendants enjoy Section 791 immunity as to the LUTPA claims. The Court fully expects such issue to be the subject of future motion practice.

Id. at 15-16.

         Defendants have now filed a third Motion to Dismiss seeking dismissal of the Haygood Plaintiffs' claims with prejudice on three grounds: (1) they are statutorily immune to suit under La. R.S. 37:791 and 42 U.S.C. § 11111; (2) the LUTPA claims are barred by prescription and preemption; and (3) the complaint fails to state a claim under LUTPA upon which relief can be granted. See Record Document 214-1 at 5. The Haygood ...


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