Dr. C. Ryan Haygood epitomizes litigation costs of suing state agencies by incurring “hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees,” only to then be cast with $114,987.26 of state-agency-related legal fees.

Dr. C Ryan Haygood (center of table) makes a point to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Sen. Dan Martiny during his testimony of alleged Louisiana Dental Board corruption on April 4, 2018.

Our Shelley Sebastian feature resulted in something we rarely encounter:  a feedback comment.  We realize subscribers (particularly those with LSP ties) refrain from commenting given that oftentimes they have direct connections (e.g. employment) with those state agencies.

Having said that, we value all comments, even those which offer some perhaps-not-so-constructive criticism of our work such as “Bob’s” comment below on the Sebastian feature:

You’re literally the worst writer on the planet.
1. Work on your headlines. They suck.
2. Write stories that people actually care about.

Regarding # 2 from “Bob” above, we contacted via phone eight of our most loyal subscribers (our “elite eight”).  We asked them upon what would they most like to see a feature.  A consensus emerged that the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry (LSBD) hadn’t been reported upon in a while.  We therefore committed to do a little digging and see if we could uncover any new material on the LSBD.

What we uncovered is that President Jerome Smith, who assumed his new position in early 2019, received high marks for his leadership.  Nevertheless, we were guided by one of our “elite eight” subscribers with extensive knowledge on Legislative affairs to investigate recent filings in civil litigation matters pertaining to Shreveport dentist Dr. C. Ryan Haygood.

For those unfamiliar with Haygood, he graduated from LSU Dentistry School in 2000 after which he relocated to North Carolina to work at Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem and then operate a private dental practice in Wake Forest before returning to his hometown of Shreveport in December of 2005 to open a dentist office there.

As he states in the following 50-second video, Haygood alleges several Shreveport dentists conspired with one another (and the then-Executive Director of the LSBD, C. Barry Ogden) to put him out of business:

April 4, 2018 Senate testimony by Haygood alleging he was targeted by competing dentists to shut his dental practice down.
[Note:  The linked litigation above was filed in Federal Court in the Western District of Louisiana on February 13, 2013.
That litigation is largely a regurgitation of litigation filed in the 1st JDC in Louisiana state court on September 26, 2011 with additional defendants
added and allegations of violations of Federal Constitutional Rights, most notably Title 42, Section 1983.]

We are not going to rehash Haygood’s allegations.  We will point out, however, that one of his original attorneys in the state litigation was then private citizen and future Louisiana State Senator Ryan Gatti.  Gatti was crushed by challenger Robert Mills last year (see Senate District 36 results).  From the preceding link:

State Senator — 36th Senatorial District

All 106 precincts reporting

Absentee reporting – 100%


Ryan Gatti (REP) 43.83% 17,209

Robert Mills (REP) 56.17%  22,050

That race featured even a sitting U. S. President, Donald Trump, along with Attorney General Jeff Landry and U. S. Sen. John Kennedy, openly calling upon voters to vote for Mills because Gatti was viewed as a must-win candidate by trial lawyers across the State of Louisiana.

Though not rehashing the litigation because anyone can read it in its totality at the link above, let’s nevertheless identify the original defendants in the state litigation and provide a very brief highlight from Haygood’s litigation about his or her alleged role in investigating Haygood:

Dentists – Ross Dies, Cody Cowen, Benjamin Beach (all affiliated with the same Shreveport dentist office):

In July 2007, Dr. Dies, purporting to act as an “independent expert,” submitted written evaluations of the records of patients which were the subject of the investigation all of which found the treatment and professional actions of Dr. Haygood to be improper. Dr. Dies was neither an expert in periodontal dentistry nor was he independent, as both the Board and his co-conspirators were well aware.

Whatever the value of Dr. Dies’ opinions might have been, the Board belatedly recognized his antagonistic relationship with Dr. Haygood and his obvious bias. Accordingly, the Board submitted the patient records, many of which were still apparently unsupported by sworn complaints, to Dr. Donald Harris, a dentist in New Iberia.

LSBD Investigator Camp Morrison (whom Haygood asserts violated LA R. S. 37:3520 by employing unlicensed private investigators during the LSBD’s investigation of him). :

In or about September 2007, apparently not satisfied with the evidence compiled to date, Camp Morrison and Board Member Dr. Conrad McVea developed a scheme which involved Morrison’s employment of Karen Moorhead and Dana Glorioso to act as unlicensed investigators, retained to pose as patients and to present Dr. Haygood’s office with false medical histories and symptoms.  Morrison, who had been asked by the Board to find two appropriate candidates “for an undercover operation into the dental offices of Dr. Haygood in Shreveport,” chose Glorioso and Moorhead, and instructed them to deceive Dr. Haygood’s office by using fake names as part of their “undercover operation.”

Hygienists Karen Moorhead and Dana Glorioso (see above).

C. Barry Ogden, then Executive Director of the LSBD (parenthetical disclosure is ours):

After hearing the testimony of Dr. Yukna (a witness for Haygood and former Director of Graduate Periodontics at LSU in New Orleans), M. Thomas Arcenaux, prosecutor for the Board, approached the Board Director, Barry Ogden, suggesting that the evidence might be insufficient for any conviction. Ogden responded that the Board was “in too far financially and boxed in politically” and the case had to be pursued.

As Haygood states on the brief video above, his license was revoked by the LSBD. Eventually through several legal proceedings which culminated in an appeal to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, the LSBD’s action was reversed as per this excerpt of the court’s decision:

We conclude that the combination of Mr. Begue’s roles of general counsel, prosecutor, and adjudicator violated Dr. Haygood’s due process rights.  We find the Board improperly combined the prosecutorial and judicial functions by allowing its general counsel, Mr. Begue, to serve as the prosecutor, general counsel, panel member, and adjudicator for the proceedings against Dr. Haygood.  We hold this conduct is violative of the Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act and Dr. Haygood’s due process right to a neutral adjudicator and a fair hearing.  We find the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry’s decision to revoke Dr. Haygood’s dental license is arbitrary and capricious; therefore, we reverse the trial court’s judgment, which affirmed the revocation of Dr. Haygood’s license and remand this matter back to the Board for a new hearing.

The LSBD appealed to the Louisiana Supreme Court, which issued a ruling on December 14, 2012 denying the LSBD’s writ by a vote of 5-1.

In light of the foregoing, Haygood undertook two actions:  #1) he sued in 1st JDC and in Federal Court of the Western District of Louisiana collectively alleging a) antitrust violations, b) U. S. Constitutional violations of Title 42, Section 1983, c) defamation, and d) a violation of Louisiana’s Unfair Trade Practice Act (LA R. S. 51:1409) ; and #2) seeking for the world to know of his allegations of LSBD corruption, he formed the website Dental Board Corruption.

Meanwhile, the LSBD made its displeasure with the new website known and began making active plans to conduct a new administrative hearing on Dr. Haygood since the Fourth Circuit made no ruling on the merits of Haygood’s alleged misconduct but merely remanded the matter back to the LSBD for another hearing.  As that next scheduled hearing approached, Haygood opted to enter into a Consent Decree with the LSBD.  That Decree contained a clause under which Haygood would refrain from making disparaging remarks about the LSBD (likely one reason the aforementioned corruption website is available for viewing by invitation only).

Enter stage right:  LCM.  That would be “Loose Cannon Milkovich” as we’re choosing to name him upon hearing the sentiments of so many of his former colleagues in the Louisiana Legislature.  As a brief aside, Milkovich, like Gatti, was targeted by Landry, Kennedy, and others for ouster in the 2019 election cycle over his adamant opposition to tort reform initiatives.  Landry, Kennedy et al.’s efforts were immensely successful as Milkovich failed to even force a runoff for his seat (see Senate District 38).  From the preceding link:

State Senator — 38th Senatorial District

All 85 precincts reporting

Absentee reporting – 100%


Katrina D. Early (DEM)  22.95%  7,359

John Milkovich (DEM) 26.34%  8,447

Barry Milligan (REP) 50.72%  16,266

In 2018, Milkovich authored two bills, both of which dealt with occupational licensees having the ability to have administrative hearings such as that which Haygood was the subject of adjudicated by a disinterested party, namely the Louisiana Division of Administrative Law, if the licensee so desired (the licensee would have to remit $750 to cover the cost associated with retaining the Division’s services).  One bill dealt exclusively with medical doctors, while the other bill encompassed other occupational licensees.

The medical bill flew through the Senate by a vote of 36-0; however, upon it being deliberated at the House Committee on Health and Welfare on May 2, 2018, LCM lived up to his reputation in categorically stating that the Louisiana Medical Board routinely engaged in “shakedowns” of doctors.

He further testified that the Medical Board was directly responsible for suicides of “doctors, patients, and medical board employees.”  LCM got so out-of-control that he even stated that the former Executive Director overseeing investigations of the Medical Board, whom LCM admitted that he wasn’t supposed to name but nevertheless uttered her name numerous times throughout his tirades against the Medical Board, was having an affair with the attorney who defended those doctors under investigation.  That LCM utterance prompted the attorney, whom LCM knew was in the audience, Jack Stolier, to scream out to LCM that he just uttered a “bald face lie.”  Upon Stolier’s utterance, Milkovich turned to his left, pointed down at the seat next to him, and said to Stolier, “Have a seat, Stolier.  Have a seat.”  Let’s take a look at just that 1:10 episode at this time:

LCM (“Loose Cannon Milkovich”) lives up to his reputation and infuriates attorney Jack Stolier in the process.  Stolier had to be restrained by security, and he was escorted into the hallway and informed he would have to maintain his composure or he would be escorted out of the building.

The physician’s bill was involuntarily deferred (which effectively killed it) at the May 2, 2018 hearing after Rep. Dustin Miller made a motion to do so after first chewing out LCM for having stated that a doctor in his (Miller’s) district had committed suicide as a result of the Medical Board.  Miller stated that he knew the doctor personally and added that, “His death had nothing to do with the Medical Board.”  There was no opposition to Miller’s motion to involuntarily defer as LCM had managed to pull off the incredible feat of angering all members of the entire committee.

Now, recall that we just referenced that Haygood signed a Consent Decree that he would not make disparaging remarks about the LSBD.  Haygood made a ton of disparaging remarks about the LSBD when Milkovich’s other occupational licensing bill (the “non-medical-doctor” one) was heard by the Senate Commerce Committee on April 4, 2018.

That prompted the LSBD to begin seeking to conduct another hearing against Haygood for violating that clause in the Consent Decree.  That LSBD action, in turn, prompted a letter of outrage dated December 18, 2018 by then-Sen. Commerce Committee Chairman Martiny and Senate Health and Welfare Chairman Sen. Fred Mills to the LSBD’s Executive Director, Arthur Hickham, (the letter in its entirety may be viewed by clicking here for page 1 and clicking here for page 2).

The letter from Mills and Martiny, which was copied to AG Jeff Landry, Gov. Edwards, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera, and all members of both the Senate Commerce and Health and Welfare Committees, got soon-to-be LSBD President Jerome Smith’s immediate attention, and he wasted little time (two days) in responding with this letter indicating that, upon assuming his role as President of the LSBD officially the next month, he’d be dropping any LSBD action against Haygood resulting from his Senate Commerce Committee testimony.

Milkovich’s bill ultimately passed upon being amended to include only the professions of dentistry and auctioneers.  Sound Off Louisiana‘s Burns personally spoke with several legislators about the bill, most notably Barry Ivey, who agreed to sponsor an amendment to ensure auctioneers remained subjected to the provisions of the bill.  The final bill, which Gov. Edwards signed into law and became effective August 1, 2018, only applies to dentists and auctioneers.  The bill was also amended to have a three-year sunset, and its provisions expire on July 31, 2021.

The next year (2019), LCM proceeded with a full-fledged “bill of rights” for all occupational licensees.  The bill was presented to the Senate Commerce Committee on the dates of May 1, 2019 and May 8, 2019.  Haygood testified at the May 1, 2019 meeting and, perhaps emboldened by Martiny and Mills’ letter of outrage entailing the LSBD, he fired off disparaging remarks left and right to include stating that Smith had “slandered” him via his letter to Mills and Martiny, which Haygood asserted was “full of lies.”  Haygood did not attend the May 8, 2019 meeting, which was a continuation of the May 1, 2019 testimony on the bill.

Meanwhile, one member of the Committee, Sen. Page Cortez (now President of the Louisiana Senate), already familiar with LCM’s reputation and particularly his total implosion at the prior year’s House Committee hearing, admonished, in a very professional manner, LCM regarding his propensity to declare members of occupational licensing Boards and Commissions and their employees guilty of criminal acts based merely upon LCM’s statement that they are guilty.

Cortez was also displeased with Haygood’s May 1, 2019 testimony and his statement that Smith’s letter was “full of lies.”  Since Haygood wasn’t present for the May 8, 2019 hearing, LCM assumed the role of defending Haygood.  Let’s take a look at just that segment of the May 8, 2019 Senate Commerce Committee exchange:

May 8, 2019 Senate Commerce Committee hearing at which Sen. Cortez admonishes LCM not to declare folk guilty who have not been convicted of crimes.  He also expressed his concerns at Haygood’s disparaging testimony the week before entailing the Smith letter, which Haygood asserted “slandered” him and was “full of lies.”  Meanwhile, Haygood had to be defended in absentia by LCM, who emphasized that Haygood had incurred “hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees” fighting what he perceives as “LSBD corruption.”

As is obvious from the preceding video, Cortez, who admitted that Dr. Smith is a constituent and for whom he has great respect, stated that he “didn’t see any lies” in Smith’s letter.  Because the letter has become such a matter of focus, we’re going to break down the nine itemized points that Smith made in the letter and provide our assessment based upon filings we’ve reviewed and our fairly extensive following of Haygood’s plight:

1. The initial investigation several years ago occurred due to a large number of complaints against the dentist in question. The majority of the dentists currently serving on the dental board, including me, were not board members back when this transpired.

The statement that the majority of dentists currently serving on the LSBD were not members back then goes without even having to be defended as being very obviously true.  On February 20, 2019, attorney Lawrence W. Pettiette, acting as Special Assistant Attorney General for AG Jeff Landry, filed into 1st JDC the following statement as part part of a much broader filing which we’ll comment on before this feature concludes:  “The LSBD began an investigation of Dr. Haygood in 2007 after receiving a number of complaints from patients of Dr. Haygood regarding the costly treatment plans he recommended for unnecessary work to healthy tissue and the quality of the dental care he rendered.  All of these complaints were patient driven.  None of the patients who complained to the LSBD about Dr. Haygood were employed or compensated by the LSBD.  The LSBD did not solicit any complaints.”

Given the preceding excerpt from the legal filing, it would appear very difficult to substantiate an argument that Smith lacked an adequate foundational basis upon which to make his statement contained in the first sentence of his statement above.  Hence, we can spot no “lie” in his first itemized point above unless it can be substantiated that Pettiette was deceitful in his court filing, the probability of which would seem to be infinitesimal.

2. As part of its investigation the Board sent two patients to this dentist. These two patients had been previously examined by an expert non‐board member dentist and determined not to have any dental problems.

The LSBD did in fact send two patients (hygienists Karen Moorhead and Dana Glorioso – see above) as new patients to Haygood’s office, and their own employer dentists, together with whomever the LSBD wants to assert it relied upon as an “expert,” Dies or Harris, deemed them not to have any dental problems.  The fact that Haygood asserts otherwise and likely his own “expert,” Dr. Yukna, may have also testified that the dental work was necessary does not make Smith’s statement above in any way a “lie.”  There is obviously a difference of medical opinion, but there is nothing we know of to definitively indicate who is wrong and who is right on that difference of medical opinion, much less the apparent inference Haygood wishes to make that Smith somehow knew that he (Haygood) was right and that Smith nevertheless joined in with his predecessors and “lied” about whether or not these hygienists needed the dental work.

3. These patients returned from his office with diagnoses of moderate to advanced periodontal disease requiring and needing costly and unnecessary laser surgery.

See # 2 above with the emphasis on our commentary about differences of medical opinion.

4. The Board elected to revoke his dental license based on their findings.

Clearly a true statement with emphasis on “based on their findings.”

5. The Board decision was reversed in a court of appeals and the case was sent back to the Board, not on the merits, but because of technical errors. It was deemed that the board did not provide this dentist with appropriate due process.

Clearly a true statement.  The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals did not in any way exonerate Haygood of the allegations but instead stated in a very strong fashion that his due process rights were violated (see the decree we’ve presented above).

6. For several years the dentist had been operating a website and sending correspondence to other licensees designed to disparage the Board. His actions had managed to get the Inspector General and the Legislative Auditor to inspect us; neither found any wrong doing. The Legislative Auditor recommended changes which have since been implemented.

We’ve already referenced the website, and common sense would dictate its intent was to disparage the Board.  There is no reason to assert (nor do we believe Haygood would assert) that it was not the website’s contents that prompted inspection by the Inspector General and Legislative Auditor’s Office.

As anyone who follows this blog knows by now, we’re certainly no fans of Inspector General Stephen Street.  We have been resolute in our stand that he is merely a puppet for any sitting governor.  Further, we have consistently maintained that, despite his assertions to the contrary, he and his office are anything BUT independent of the Governor’s office!  True independence would not have an organization chart that clearly shows the IG’s Office as reporting directly to the Governor, yet Street wants to maintain that he and his office are totally independent of the Governor’s Office.

We believe that we have provided an abundance of evidence to back up our contention that he is in no way, shape, or form independent of the Governor’s Office.  In fact, we challenge anyone reading this feature to search for the term “Stephen Street” in the search feature on this blog and read the features we’ve done on Street to demonstrate that fact!

It’s our firm contention that anyone submitting evidence of fraud, waste, abuse, or state governmental crime to his office is engaging in a wasteful exercise of total futility and, given Street’s extensive history of kowtowing to any sitting Governor, such a person has only himself or herself to blame once Street’s office inevitably finds a way to “close our file” even after his office’s own investigation corroborates the perpetrating of criminal acts!

The bottom line is that Stephen Street who, despite being a CPA, has his own well-documented troubled past of managing his OWN finances, is scared to death of angering a sitting Governor with the consequence of that being that Governor asking the Legislature to acquiesce to firing Street.  Despite Street’s past on-camera statement that he “cannot be fired by the Governor,”  it’s blatantly obvious that the man cannot even read a statute regarding his own employment!

D.(1)  Notwithstanding the provisions of Subsection B of this Section, the inspector general may be removed by the governor provided such removal is approved by a majority vote of each house of the legislature.

While Haygood asserts that, in initial meetings with representatives of the Inspector General’s Office, assurances were made that “arrests will be forthcoming,” (which we do not challenge that such utterances came from officials of Street’s office one iota and in fact would be willing to bet big-time money that they were in fact uttered given that Sound Off Louisiana‘s Robert Burns experienced very similar statements entailing Auctioneer Licensing Board payroll fraud which Burns reported to Street’s Office), the undeniable fact is that Street’s office issued a letter dated May 2, 2018 stating that the evidence presented regarding complaints of various activities, including disciplinary hearings, “did not support a criminal charge against any current or former LSBD employee, board member, or contractor.”  Furthermore, in a prior  letter dated January 25, 2018, Street clearly references the LSBD having made changes that will “address problems going forward” which can only be construed that problems undoubtedly existed.

We therefore conclude that Smith’s statement above is simply too strong, but we don’t believe it was an effort to “lie” about the matter.  In our opinion, Street’s office did not find there was “no wrong doing” as Smith asserts but rather that any such wrong doing did not rise to the level of being able to “support a criminal charge.”

Meanwhile, the Legislative Auditor’s Report dated October 26, 2016 contains a response by the LSBD (see Appendix “A”) which is extremely critical of Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera’s findings.  Nevertheless, whether reluctantly or not (or whether happily or not), we could not find any evidence that Purpera’s recommended changes have not been ultimately implemented.

We are therefore going to assess Smith’s statement # 6 as being too strong and not indicative of what either Purpera or Street’s sentiments on the LSBD may be, and he would have been better served to have used the words “neither stated that anyone affiliated with the LSBD could be charged criminally based on the evidence,” rather than “neither found any wrongdoing.”  We are therefore going to declare Smith’s statement above as misleading but aren’t prepared to state that the misleading nature of his statement was intentional, and we most definitely are not prepared to say the statement constitutes “a lie.”

7. The night before the new hearing, the attorney for this dentist asked to meet with the Board president and the Board attorney, Mr. Tom Arceneaux, to try to settle this matter rather than move forward with a formal hearing.

Haygood himself informed us in real-time that this is what transpired.

8. At that meeting the dentist’s attorney proposed the non‐disparagement clause to try to get the board to settle. The Board president accepted the agreement, and the dentist signed the consent decree that evening. We hoped this ongoing case had finally been put to rest.

See our statement on # 7 above.

9. The 2018 Board president, Dr. Marija LaSalle, decided to file a complaint and move forward on this matter after legal consultation with board attorneys Kirk Groh and Celia Cangelosi. This was based on comments that he made disparaging the board at the legislative committee hearing. Personally, I had a “bad feeling” about going forward with this since this was not the intent of the non‐disparagement clause and expressed my concerns at the time. However, the members of the disciplinary oversight committee felt that the administrative law judge could review this matter and make the call on this convoluted and complex issue, and we would happily accept the ruling.

Except for the contention that Smith says he had a “bad feeling” about proceeding forward, there is nothing that can even remotely be construed as “a lie” in the preceding statement.  There is also no basis upon which we feel Smith’s statement that he had a “bad feeling” about proceeding can be challenged (nor would Haygood or his attorney seemingly want to challenge the validity of that statement), so we can’t conceive of any “lie” entailing the proceeding point.  None!

So, to sum up our observations, only one point (#6) is up for debate regarding whether the letter may contain an inaccuracy, and for Haygood to state that, “this letter right here is full of lies,” is simply beyond the pale!  While Haygood’s frustration may be understandable, Cortez’s point is well-taken that witnesses at committee hearings can’t let their frustration levels boil over to the point that they make disparaging remarks about individuals which simply don’t appear to be supportable by provable facts.  To state it more succinctly as Sen. Cortez did, “they would have to have been convicted.”

The ultimate irony of the video above of LCM attempting to defend Haygood is that LCM tells Cortez that, had he had the time to prepare Haygood, he would have cautioned him against using “general conclusory allegations.”  While we can’t read Cortez’s mind at the time LCM uttered that, had it been us in Cortez’s position, we couldn’t help but think about the old saying of the pot calling the kettle black.  After all, Cortez had just completed admonishing LCM about doing that very thing!

Now, note that, in the preceding video, Haygood stresses that Smith’s letter “cleared me of all charges.”  That’s true, and we want at this time to draw focus to one of those complaint issues:  this February 8, 2018 letter drafted by a relative of one of Haygood’s patients on behalf of that patient (HIPPA laws necessitated the redacting of the patient’s identity).

We think the complaint against Haygood, which is hand-written, is worth the read.  It alleges that the patient entered Haygood’s office for diagnosis and relief from a dental problem.  The letter states that, before even seeing Haygood, the front desk insisted that the credit card of the patient’s relative had to be provided, which it was.  The relative states that the patient was told to go to another dentist for a root canal, after which Haygood would place a crown on the tooth.  The patient was encouraged to go ahead and make a mold in Haygood’s office so that Haygood could send it off to a lab to make the crown, thereby saving time upon the root canal’s completion by another dentist.  The patient did so.

The patient then went to Dr. Steven Russell, another Shreveport dentist.  The complaint included a letter from Russell dated July 11, 2017 making the following statement:

The tooth had severe decay that went into the root. There was not enough tooth structure left and the tooth could not be saved. We recommended that <redacted> have the tooth extracted and an implant placed.

The patient’s relative indicated that the patient then went to Dr. Richard Hall, another Shreveport dentist. The complaint included a letter from Hall, also dated July 11, 2017, containing the following statement:

The extent of the tooth loss comes very close to the internal chamber which encloses the nerve tissues of the tooth.

These conditions would mitigate against attempting a conventional crown without first considering root canal therapy, crestal bone removal and periodontal reconturing procedures. These procedures, designed to improve the chances for a successful placement of a conventional prosthetic crown, need to be completed, successfully, prior to attempting a crown preparation.

In my opinion, to proceed with root canal therapy and the placement of a prosthetic crown (the impression for which has already been taken), absent the prior successful completion of these preparatory procedures, is unlikely to lead to a good prognosis for the tooth, or its surrounding gum and bone.

The challenge and expense of these (sic) having these “support procedures” successfully performed, and the fact that the tooth would lose addition natural structure during the efforts, leads to my opinion, that I would not have recommended a conventional prosthetic crown at all, but would recommend extraction and placement of an implant to support a prosthetic crown.

Dr. Hall then sent the patient to Dr. James Sikes, yet another Shreveport dentist.  He provided a letter dated sometime in 2017 (the exact date is not available on the letter) indicating that the tooth had “poor long-term prognosis,” and recommended “restoration with an implant-supported fixed partial denture.”  The complaint indicated that the tooth had been removed, but that, as of the date of the complaint (February 8, 2018) the implant had not been done.

The complaint then indicates that a dispute complaint was filed with American Express over the $880 charge based upon “incorrect dental procedure.”  The complaint then states that “after months of negotiation” between American Express and DDS Dentures Solutions, American Express asked of the patient if remitting half ($440) would be acceptable, to which the patient agreed.  DDS Dentures Solutions, however, would not accept half, prompting American Express to essentially throw up its hands, state that it is “not a law firm” and indicate that it would have no choice but to charge the full $880, which it did and the patient paid.

The complaint then indicates that Dr. Hall advised the patient to contact the Louisiana Dental Association (LDA) and seek a “peer review” of Dr. Haygood; however, the LDA indicated a peer review of Haygood would be “impossible” since he is not a member of the LDA.

Hall then recommended contacting Dr. Issac “Ike” House, a Haughton dentist and Secretary-Treasurer of the LSBD who, in turn, recommended contacting the LSBD office for guidance. The complaint concludes by indicating the patient seeks the following remedy:

Whatever remedy you might have to address this complaint, to alert other possible citizens and, if possible, secure a refund of my $880.

Haygood contended the LSBD had no jurisdiction over the matter because it entailed a fee dispute, and the matter was dropped.

Now, again referring back to the previous video, LCM emphasized that Haygood has incurred “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in legal fees fighting what “he believes” is LSBD corruption.  That was precisely the point we made in the Shelley Sebastian feature (the one upon which “Bob” provided his criticisms of founder Burns’ journalistic abilities presented above).  We now reproduce a portion of what we stated in that feature entailing concluding observation # 3 (though it’s labeled #1 below) of our assessment based on our following of many, many lawsuits against the State of Louisiana:

  1. If one plans to sue a state agency, one better have the resources to be in it for the long haul.  What do we mean by that?  The State of Louisiana has an almost-limitless pot of money to fight a lawsuit.  That pot is called taxpayer dollars, and more than a few courtroom observers have made note of the fact that any sitting Louisiana Attorney General is more than happy to award contracts to defend state agencies to the firms known to have contributed to his (or her) campaign.  Those firms have a vested interest in racking up defense costs!  The plaintiff, on the other hand, at least if the many cases Sound Off Louisiana has reported upon are typical, has to hire an attorney who most often charges by the hour rather than contingency.  At best, the plaintiff may be able to obtain a combination of contingency AND straight billing for hours (e.g. $100/hour + 1/3 of award).  The legal fees are going to mount up quickly and massively.

Let’s now take a few moments to sort of zoom in on Haygood’s legal fees to exemplify exactly the commentary we made above.

First, we have his considerable legal fees to fight to get his license back and the $35,000 fine the LSBD imposed upon him as well as the $138,000 in LSBD costs assessed to him from the hearings (for a total of $173,000 paid to the LSBD).

Second, we have the legal fees he has expended in suing the state and other dentists in First JDC in Shreveport.  Those fees are obviously massive as the litigation has dragged on for nine years.  Haygood is also responsible for paying court cost filing fees anytime he makes a filing in the suit.  The State of Louisiana, on the other hand, pays no court costs until the end of the litigation and then only if it loses the case (court costs are typically cast to the losing party).

How much have Haygood’s court costs alone tallied?  Well, this 77-page printout of court costs clearly shows on the final page that cumulative court costs for all parties as of April 8, 2020 total $55,694.42.  We took out our handy-dandy 36-year-old HP 12-C calculator, and we added those costs identified as cast to Haygood’s attorney, Jerald R. Harper.  The total we came to was just over $30,000.  That’s court costs alone.  Legal fees always dwarf court costs, so one can only imagine just how much the legal fees have tallied for Haygood in First JDC, but there’s certainly no reason to challenge LCM’s statement that they’re “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Third, let’s take a look at attorney’s fees for the action he filed in the Western District Federal Court in Louisiana.  Before we do that, however, let’s examine just how well Haygood fared in that litigation.  From the preceding link (parenthetical statement is our own):

The rationale applied in Brossette (that his claim had prescribed) is directly on point in the instant matter. Dr. Haygood received notice of the revocation of his license on or about November 8, 2010. This single act of the Dental Board revoking his license provides the date from which the one-year prescriptive period began to toll. Therefore, the § 1983 claim was prescribed when suit was filed on February 13, 2013.1

The Court additionally notes that even if this action was not prescribed, the Rule 12(b)(6) Motion filed by Defendants nonetheless would be granted because the bald conclusory allegations that these Defendants were involved in a conspiracy with the Dental Board fails the plausibility standard established in Twombly and Iqbal.

Opps……There goes those darn words, “conclusory allegations,” again. Haygood may actually hear those words over and over in his sleep each night.

Again, from the link above (regarding the Sherman Antitrust Claim):

Here, the Haygood Plaintiffs have at best alleged circumstantial evidence that some defendants simply conversed with other defendants. They never provide factual support that those conversations were for the intent and purpose of reaching an agreement to unreasonably restrain trade of dental services among the several States.

Complaint is silent as to (1) when, where, or how a conspiracy was formed; (2) that the instant Defendants, in fact, agreed to restrain the trade of dental services; (3) that the instant Defendants communicated with anyone regarding the restraint of trade, or (4) that the instant Defendants shared a common intent to restrain trade. The Haygood Plaintiffs’ factual allegations as to Section 1 of the Sherman Act are simply bare allegations and fail to meet the necessary pleading requirements to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) challenge. Accordingly, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion is GRANTED as to the Section 1 claim.

Here, the Court finds that the Haygood Plaintiffs have failed to sufficiently plead how the instant Defendants, namely Dr. Dies, were capable of monopolizing the dental services market or how the instant Defendants conspired with someone capable of monopolizing the dental services market. There are no plausible factual allegations that the instant Defendants took any action aimed at achieving a “dangerous practice of monopolization” in the area of dentistry…….Accordingly, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion is GRANTED as to the Section 2 claim.

Now let’s take a look at what the Federal Court had to say about Haygood’s defamation claim under Federal AND Louisiana law:

Under Louisiana law, “a petitioner alleging a cause of action for defamation must set forth in the petition with reasonable specificity the defamatory statements allegedly published by the defendant.” Badeaux v. Sw. Computer Bureau, Inc., 2005-0612 (La. 3/17/06), 929 So.2d 1211, 1219. While “it is not necessary for a plaintiff to state verbatim the words on which he bases his cause of action, but he must allege a state of facts or condition of things which would show fault under article 2315.” Id.

The Court finds that the factual allegations in the Haygood Plaintiffs’ First Supplemental, Amended and Restated Complaint fail to meet the pleading requirements under both federal law and Badeaux. There are no allegations or statements of fact as to what the defamatory words were and/or how the unknown statements were false. The basis of the defamation claim appears to be Dr. Dies’ opinion and/or medical evaluations “studded with inaccuracies, falsehoods, exaggerations and improper assumptions.” Record Document 100 at ¶¶ 90, 92. These factual allegations are, again, bald accusations and, at best, demonstrate a medical difference of opinion concerning treatment plans, not defamatory words per se. Accordingly, the Rule 12(b)(6) motion is GRANTED as to the defamation claim.

So, based on the preceding excerpts from the Western District of Louisiana’s Federal Court rulings, Haygood’s Federal Court action essentially fell flat on its face, no?  In fact, the victory in Federal Court by Haygood’s defendants was so authoritative that, on March 14, 2018, certain  of those defendants (namely Barry Ogden, the former Executive Director of the LSBD; Camp Morrison, the former LSBD contracted investigator; and the two hygienists, Glorioso and Moorhead)  filed a motion for the Court to assess their attorney fees against Haygood.  From that filing:

The Supreme Court has held that § 1988 authorizes a district court to award attorney’s fees to a defendant “upon a finding that the plaintiff’s action was frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.”1 Further, the “presence of reasonable allegations in a suit does not immunize the plaintiff against paying for the fees that his frivolous claims imposed.”

B. Defendants are entitled to recover attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988(b) because Plaintiffs knew or should have known that their § 1983 claims were prescribed when filed.

D. Defendants are entitled to recover attorney’s fees under La. R.S. § 51:1409 because Plaintiffs’ LUTPA claims were frivolous, brought in bad faith, and unsupported by any evidence.


On March 14, 2019, the Federal Court granted the defendants’ motion and assessed their reasonable attorney fees all against Haygood.  We feel absolutely compelled to draw our subscribers’ attention to the Federal Court’s conclusion in rendering its decision on the attorney fees.  It is presented below (click on the image file to enlarge if such enlargement may be necessary):

As is notated above, the Court granted 21 days for the tabulation of reasonable attorney fees to be submitted to the Court for approval.

How much were the defendants’ attorney fees?  That would be a cool $114,987.26!   Note that the total includes $11,594.66 in attorney fees representing hours provided by AG Jeff Landry’s office.  That would be in addition to Haygood’s own legal fees for the Federal proceeding.

Once the Federal Court made its ruling assessing Haygood with certain of his opponents’ legal fees, he essentially went hat in hand to the Federal judge in asking for the judge to reconsider.  Federal Judge Maurice Hicks ultimately issued an order denying Haygood’s motion for reconsideration on February 7, 2020.  On February 28, 2020, Haygood filed notice of intent to appeal Judge Hicks’ denial of the reconsideration motion to the U. S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

One long-time subscriber of Sound Off Louisiana who was one of our subscribers suggesting that we update happenings at the Dental Board openly questioned how Haygood could possibly justify the additional legal fees and costs associated with a Fifth Circuit appeal.  Then, mere seconds later, he stated, “Then again, maybe he’s using Barry Ogden’s logic of ‘we’re in this thing too deep financially’ and surmised there was no choice but to proceed forward with an appeal.”

Now, there were other filings to include a totally separate brief stint in Federal Court as Haygood’s original defendants moved to have the State Court matter transferred to Federal Court; however, the matter ultimately was remanded back to First JDC.

Other filings demonstrating that legal fees mounted for the individual dentists named as defendants in Haygood’s suits exist as well, and such filings entailed dragging their homeowner insurance companies into the litigation as third-party defendants in an effort to shift the burden of their legal fees on to the insurance companies.

The insurance companies filed extensive opposition motions to that action that were extremely voluminous, but we’re going to use a little street vernacular to sum up the jest of what they contended:  “Look, dude, your homeowners’ policy doesn’t cover this sort of thing!”  The insurance companies were summarily dismissed from the litigation.

So the next logical question is, “What’s happening with the litigation in First JDC (State Court)?”  The short answer is, over the last 14 months, very little going strictly by public filings.  On February 10, 2019, Haygood filed a Motion for a Protective Order and Sanctions against the LSBD which is best summed up through one paragraph within that Motion:

As set forth more fully in the accompanying memorandum, Plaintiffs request that this Court, after due proceedings are had, enter a preliminary injunction in favor of Plaintiffs and against Defendant, the Louisiana State Board of Dentistry and its employees, contractors, appointees, agents, assigns, affiliates, and/or those acting (or purporting to act) on its behalf, by enjoining them from calling, e-mailing, texting, corresponding, or otherwise contacting or attempting to contact any and all of Plaintiffs’ potential witnesses in this litigation, until at least the conclusion of this litigation (which would include appeal of any and all final judgment(s)) including, but not limited to, the following:

• Ryan Haygood, DDS;
• Haygood Dental Center, LLC;
• Diana Bianchini Chenevert;
• Gregory John Folse, DDS;
• Wendy Green;
• Allison Schenk;
• Julie Snyder;
• Randall M, Wilk, DDS, MD, PhD, APMC; and/or,
• Henry A. Long, Jr., DDS.

Upon what basis is the Motion sought?  Largely upon text messages which are asserted to originate from the LSBD or others acting on its behalf threatening and embarrassing witness Diane Chenevert in seeking to have her recant her testimony before the Louisiana Senate Committee.  The following video captures the essence of Chenevert’s testimony:

Diana Chenevert’s testimony of April 4, 2018 before the Senate Commerce Committee.  Note that, from the 0:40 – 0:49 mark, Chenevert states that it’s her first time to meet Haygood and she expresses appreciation to him for his role in procuring employment for her with the Federal Government.  Also, at the 4:38 mark, Chairman Martiny inquires, “Did you ever report this to any of the authorities?” to which she responded, “No;” however, she soon clarified that she, “did speak to the Inspector General (Stephen Street).”

Haygood asserts these texts are presumed to have been sent via “burner phones.”

We have read over all the texts and, despite the fact they have been entered into the public record, we have made a decision not to publish the texts because one individual is point-blank assessed as a “criminal,” (sound familiar?), and we simply refuse to publish something (irrespective of the fact that it’s filed into the public record) that fails to even assert upon what basis that individual is branded a “criminal.”  Secondly, the texts are all over the map, and they are often times completely nonsensical.  Thirdly, we share the concerns of LSBD attorney Lawrence Pettiette, who filed a Motion to Dismiss the Motion for Protective Order, regarding having no way whatsoever for us to know who the actual author(s) of the text(s) is (are).

In fact, let’s now focus on that filing by Lawrence Pettiette, serving as Special Assistant to Attorney General Jeff Landry, in representing the LSBD to have the Protective Order Motion dismissed.  A few highlights (we did not incur the expense of downloading the document and instead took our own notes) follow:

Plaintiffs seek to avoid the requirement of proof of irreparable harm by alleging that unknown persons believed to be connected to the LSBD have sent text messages to a former employee and another dentist seeking to coerce them to retract their testimony…..Plaintiffs present the Court with speculation…..They have no evidence any text messages were sent by anyone connected to the LSBD.  The LSBD disputes that its executive director threatened Ms. Chenevert or was involved in her failing to be hired by some undisclosed State agency……Obviously, none of the text messages or complaints have chilled anyone.  There is no evidence of any contacts with any of the other named individuals and the request to include any potential witness is too broad to be worthy of consideration…..They assert that they will present “clear evidence” the LSBD has engaged in witness tampering/interference, extortion and other prohibitory and/or unconstitutional acts.  In fact, the allegations in the Motion fall far short of any proof the LSBD has engaged in any act which would support a sanction.  The plaintiffs have offered no proof the LSBD engaged in any misconduct.  There is no evidence the LSBD was involved in any of the text messages allegedly sent to any witness or potential witness.  The claims of Ms. Chevenet (sic) regarding the actions of the LSBD’s Executive Director following her testimony are spurious.  There is no legal basis on which this Court can rely to impose any sanction on the LSBD.

Pettiette (LSBD’s attorney) also seemed to, in a professional manner, offer just a tad of remedial training to Harper (Haygood’s attorney) entailing the required filing for the relief being sought both in terms of procedure and venue:

A preliminary injunction may only be entered during the pendency of an action for an injunction.  Here, there is no Petition filed by the plaintiffs for an injunction.  In fact, they do not even seek an injunction but, rather, a preliminary injunction which will remain in place only during the pendency of this lawsuit.  The hearing on an injunction is an ordinary proceeding.  Here plaintiffs seek what amounts to an injunction by use of summary proceeding.  This is improper.  Summary process cannot be used to circumvent the rules governing an ordinary process proceeding.  Finally, a claim for a permanent injunction against the Board would only be appropriate in the 19th Judicial District Court in East Baton Rouge Parish, the Parish where the Board is located.

We found nothing in the court record where Judge Pitman ever made a written ruling on the Motion; however, we did find a letter from Pettiette dated May 16, 2019 which states the following and indicates it was hand-delivered to Judge Pitman:

Dear Judge Pitman:

This will confirm that you held a telephone status conference with the parties who are not affected by the stay concerning the February 20, 2019 evidentiary hearing on Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Protective Order and Sanctions later amended.  The parties requested that you not formalize your ruling for thirty (30) days so the Plaintiffs’ attorney will have time to determine if disclosures to the Court are necessary.

The State has requested that further proceedings be on the record.

That’s the last filing we noted during our review of the filings of the case.

We will note, however, that Haygood, who upon filing his initial petition exercised his right to demand a trial by jury, later submitted a filing indicating that he was waiving that right and opting to permit Judge Pitman to decide the whole matter.  We can only assume that this move may have been motivated by commentary Judge Pitman made in December of 2017, which Haygood chose to read into the record at the Senate Commerce Committee meeting of April 4, 2018 (along with the first 11 seconds of the following video being comprised of more of those darn “general conclusory allegations” referenced by LCM a little over a year later):

Haygood emphasizes the LSBD reopening its investigation of him in 2016 which he contends was based upon “false reports, criminal action, perjury, and fraud” and reads into the record Judge Michael Pitman’s observations uttered in State District Court in December of 2017.

Now, for any subscriber wishing to assert that Haygood is an anomaly regarding incurring massive legal fees upon suing a state agency, we would reference the following other litigants against state agencies upon whom we have reported:

1.  The stonewalling of our efforts to obtain state litigation costs for Murphy Painter / Cory delaHoussaye, which have been asserted to total $1.36 million at the time of the linked feature.

2.  Former Louisiana State Police Commission (LSPC) member Calvin Braxton in his suit against LSP Lt. Col. Jay Oliphant which now includes Louisiana State Police with Braxton’s allegation that the agency “has accused him of murder.”

3.  Former LSPC Executive Director Cathy Derbonne’s litigation against the LSPC in which she alleges that she was told by Gov. Edwards’ office to “shut the f— up” regarding her reporting of alleged wrongdoing on the part of LSPC members and Gov. Edwards himself. [Note:  Derbonne’s case is on appeal to the First Circuit Court of Appeal after Judge Morvant of 19th JDC dismissed Derbonne’s case based upon a New Iberia Sheriff case in which that court ruled that an employee has no whistle-blower protection after reporting suspected wrongdoing when such reporting of wrongdoing is part of his or her regular job duties.]

4.  Cosmetologist and former cosmetology school owner Nelda Dural, who, like Haygood, appealed the revocation of her school license and ended up owing $55,000 in combined fines and costs to the Cosmetology Board (plus her own attorney’s fees).  That figure actually forced Dural into filing for bankruptcy protection.

5.  Cosmetology litigation of former U. S. Congressman Joseph Cao  filed in Federal Court as a class action lawsuit.  [Note:  Sound Off Louisiana’s Burns attended the final hearing in Federal Judge Brian Jackson’s courtroom wherein Cao emphasized that it is “impossible” to fight the Cosmetology Board and cited Dural’s $55,000 as a prime example.  Judge Jackson responded, “How much did you say?” and Cao reiterated the $55,000 figure to Judge Jackson.]

6.  Contractor Billy Broussard who, while he didn’t sue a state agency but rather sued a local drainage district, nevertheless got stuck with absolutely massive legal fees, only to be stuck having to represent himself when he no longer had money to pay attorneys and was subjected to a pop-shot from the judge (David Ritchie) about his former attorney, AG Jeff Landry.  Of course, Ritchie seems to have been diagnosed with a case of repetitive foot-in-mouth disease which recently garnered him spotlight on the national scale.  Broussard was also threatened with FBI prosecution if he did not back off his public records requests; furthermore, he was placed under a restraining order to block him from obtaining public records.

So, the point we made in the Sebastian feature that, if anyone plans to sue a state agency, that individual better plan to be in the litigation for the long haul and have plenty of financial backing was based on a solid foundation of cases we’ve monitored, no?

Now, we want to again express our appreciation for any comments we obtain on features, including those of “Bob” above.  We hope that “Bob” finds this feature to be one in which more people will have interest.  Who knows?  “Bob” may even feel that we have improved our headline-writing ability such that our ability in that regard may no longer “suck.”

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.


In light of today’s U. S. Supreme Court decision on unanimous verdicts, Calcasieu Parish DA John DeRosier can officially change his characterization of Louisiana’s former 10-juror felony conviction statute to “it was what it was.”

Calcasieu Parish District Attorney John DeRosier

In a very brief Sound Off Louisiana feature, founder Robert Burns provides a quick take on how Calcasieu Parish DA John DeRosier can alter his inflammatory words regarding Louisiana’s former 10-person felony conviction statute in light of today’s U. S. Supreme Court ruling:

Burns provides a take on an appropriate update to DeRosier’s prior assessment of Louisiana’s 10-juror felony conviction statute.  DeRosier’s gift-card money laundering operation feature is available by clicking here, and here’s a feature entailing DeRosier’s office being under audit by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office.  Finally, the feature referenced pertaining to Ms. Belinda Parker Brown is available by clicking here.

As Burns indicates on the feature, Ms. Brown contacted us today about a feature she’d like to present in the near feature, and we believe our subscribers will have strong interest in what she’s got to say.

Finally, Burns provides a little teaser for what he describers as a “blockbuster feature” made possible by calling eight of his most dedicated subscribers and inquiring what they’d like to see reported upon.  Without naming him, Burns gave special thanks to one of those members who guided Burns on just what all he’d uncover if he snooped around a little bit, which Burns immediately commenced to do upon hanging up the phone with the gentleman.   We look very forward to delivering that feature to you in the next few days!

We hope everyone is staying safe and that all of us are nearing the end of this COVID-19 episode and that our lives can begin to gradually revert back to what they were prior to the onset of this unfortunate epidemic.

If you would like to be added to our Sound Off Louisiana email list to be notified of future posts, simply go to our home page and scroll to the bottom (mobile devices) or to the top of the right-hand column (desktops).  Supply your email address within the subscribe box.  You’ll then receive an automated email from Word Press, and all you have to do is click on the blue “confirm follow” bar contained within that email, and you’ll begin receiving great posts such as the preceding one above.

Sebastian’s civil service appeal of LSP Retirement Board’s double termination concludes in pittance settlement and promise to indicate she departed “on good terms.”

Former Louisiana State Police Retirement Board employee Shelley Sebastian, who agreed to resign her position effective November 7, 2019.

Prior to some virus named COVID-19 taking over the world stage, we received numerous inquiries entailing the status of the appeal of Shelly Sebastian’s double-termination from the Louisiana State Police Retirement Board (LSPRB) last year.

We always strive to keep our subscribers informed and updated on features we present; however, Sebastian complicated that process for us by going totally incommunicado with us around late July of 2019.  By that we mean Sebastian steadfastly refused to respond to emails we sent her, to texts we sent her, or to respond to any voice mail message we left her upon her never answering our phone calls to her.  Given that it was Sebastian who, in late March of last year, contacted us seeking for a feature on her double-termination to be published (at the time she contacted us, her second termination was imminent), we were more than a tad frustrated at Sebastian’s sudden blatant disregard for any and all attempts we made to reach out to her.

As a result of Sebastian’s non communicative stand with us and in conformity with our dedication to keeping subscribers and visitors up-to-date on features we publish, we contacted the Louisiana State Department of Civil Service.  In contacting them, we made a public records request to examine “any and all documentation pertaining to any proposed termination of Shelley Sebastian.”

We made that request via email on Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 3:51 p.m.  We would like to express special appreciation to Ms. Lindsay Ruiz de Chavez, who is the Public Information Director of Louisiana Civil Service, for the following reasons:  #1) she was the most courteous individual we’ve ever encountered entailing making a public records request (and we have made tons of such requests), and #2) she broke the all-time record both for thoroughness of her response and actually providing us with full access to the records at 8:48 a.m. on Friday, March 6, 2020!

That is NOT a joke!  We’re not talking about providing an estimate of when the records would be available.  We’re talking about her informing us that the records were READY for our review a mere 2-3 business hours after we made the request!  When we met Ms. de Chavez to examine the records and told her she’d responded faster than anyone we’ve ever encountered, she said, “We strive to fulfill every public records request as quickly as possible.  I take the approach that, if it’s public record, it’s public record.”  In our firm opinion, the State of Louisiana could benefit greatly by having more public servants of the caliber of Ms. Lindsay Ruiz de Chavez!

When Sebastian appealed her termination, she gave every indication to us that she’d go to the proverbial wall to expose the elements of which she claimed to have first-hand knowledge demonstrating that LSPRB’s operations were riddled with corruption and underhanded dealings.  She gave every indication that LSPRB could expect to spend a fortune in legal fees opposing her appeal and a likely subsequent lawsuit against LSPRB.  That prompted us to, in a previous feature, supply the following brief video demonstrating the LSPRB members lamenting its legal fees pertaining to Sebastian’s appeal and mixing in a little humor from the days of Pink!  Here’s a repeat of that brief video:

One minute video of LSPRB’s lamenting of $16,000 in legal fees to late April of 2019 for the Sebastian’s appeal of her termination.

Let’s now take a moment to present a table outlining every major event entailing the Sebastain terminations and appeals thereof and incorporate the documentation provided to us by the Louisiana Department of State Civil Service pursuant to our public records request:

Date or Time FrameEvent Transpiring [bracket followed by a number indicates document highlights presented beneath table].
November 7, 2018Sebastian is told she needs to undergo counseling. [1]
November 13, 2018Sebastian is ordered to undergo drug testing. [2]
November 13, 2018The venue for Sebastian's drug test is changed from on-site to off-site.
December 10, 2018Sebastian receives disciplinary letter of termination with a final page offering her the option to sign a voluntary letter of resignation. [3]
December 28, 2018Sebastian receives termination letter informing her that her employment will be terminated effective January 7, 2019. [4]
January 7, 2019Sebastian's employment with the LSPRB ends at 4:30 p.m.
January 18, 2019Sebastian files notice with Louisiana Civil Service of her intent to appeal her termination. [5]
February 26, 2019LSPRB rescinds its termination of Sebastian.
March 11, 2019Sebastian returns to work at LSPRB, only to be informed she will do so under constant guard by a DPS officer and will be provided with zero access to office computers, office phones, or other office equipment. She is also hand-delivered a second notice of proposed termination. This letter contained far more specificity and supporting detail and documentation.
March 22, 2019LSPRB acknowledges Sebastian's response to its 3/11/19 letter of proposed termination and provides notification of minor corrections contained therein.
March 23, 2019Sebastian contacts Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns and informs him of the preceding details with the result being this initial 3/27/19 feature being published.
March 26, 2019Sebastian is mailed an amended and finalized termination letter informing her that her services are terminated effective close of business 3/27/19.
April 25, 2019Sound Off Louisiana published a feature on Sebastian's 4/8/19 19th JDC hearing entailing her Writ of Mandamus for public documents which emphasizes the inaccuracies of Felps' testimony on the stand for that hearing.
April 29, 2019Sebastian files a second appeal of her termination. [6]
June 21, 2019Louisiana State Civil Services mails LSPRB a notice of possible defects to its documentation pertaining to Sebastian's termination.
August 2, 2019Greg Rome enrolls at Sebastian's new attorney.
August 30, 2019Louisiana State Civil Services issues its ruling on the notice of possible defects referenced on the June 21, 2019 entry above.
October 10, 2019In-Person Conference scheduled for November 7, 2019 entailing Sebastain v. LSPRB.
November 7, 2019Settlement reached during In-Person Conference [7 (see full hand-written settlement below)].

[1 – Highlights of 11/7/18 letter stating need for counseling.]

Ms. Sebastian was asked to refrain from insulting Ms. Gann and making this personal.

Ms. Sebastian accused Mr. Felps of telling her that her supervisor (Kimberly Gann) has animosity toward her. Mr. Felps adamantly disagreed with Ms. Sebastian. She said that she is tired of being “bullied” and mentioned a lawsuit to which she was asked if this was a threat. Her prejudice against female supervisors was mentioned since she has expressed these views in the office, and is previously documented in other meetings with her. She was asked if “bullying” was because she is being asked to arrive at work on time and perform her duties. Note: She is late every day anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. And this has been going on for several months. She had no answer.


[2 – Highlights of  11/13/18 order to submit to drug testing.]

If you have been prescribed “controlled dangerous substances”, and have failed to provide to us notification of these medicines and a doctor’s note assuring us that you could still carry on the duties of your position, this is a direct violation of the policy, a copy of which was given to you to review and that you signed indicating you understood the policy (copy of your signed statement is attached).

In addition, LSPRS has reasonable suspicion that you have been reporting to this office under the influence of drugs in violation of our Drug Policy. You are Instructed immediately, this morning, to submit to an on-site drug-testing. Your failure to so report will be grounds for termination of your employment.



[3 – Highlights of 12/10/18 termination / resignation letter.]

• I [Irwin Felps, Jr.] propose to discipline you because of failure to attend to your job duties timely despite numerous requests.

h) For the meeting minutes due for the October 24th [2018] board meeting, you lied when asked whether they were done. You stated that you had only a little more to do. When we checked online, we saw the minutes were not even started. This is one of your main job duties each month, to get the minutes typed up and ready for board review.

• I [Irwin Felps, Jr.] propose to discipline you because of insubordination that you have exhibited throughout your employment, which has grown even worse, despite repeated counseling:

f) In September of 2017, Ms. Gann was very ill. You constantly inquired to me about what was wrong. This was a direct violation of Ms. Gann’s privacy rights. In addition, she was your direct supervisor. You told me that you didn’t believe that Ms. Gann was sick and would love to know what was really wrong. I advised you that you were not in a position to make such remarks and should not be digging into Ms. Gann’s medical issue.

g) In December of 2017 the system accountant wrote a check to LAPERS to purchase a set of education DVDs. You were asked and reminded twice more to pick up the DVDs and drop off the check. Several months later the system accountant made the Assistant Director aware that the check has not cleared. Upon investigation the Assistant Director discovered that the check was never delivered, and the DVDs were not purchased. Upon questioning you made many excuses as to what happened. The check was voided since it could not be located. In December of 2018 when the Director and Assistant Director were going through your desk in an effort to determine what work-related issues needed addressing in your absence, we found the check for the 2017 LAPERS DVDs in a drawer with your personal items.

j) As recently as November 7, 2018, Ms. Gann and I met with you jointly on several issues. Throughout that meeting, at least three times, I had to tell you that you must follow proper protocol, communicating with your supervisor directly (Ms. Gann) instead of circumventing her by reporting to me. You insulted Ms. Gann and made personal remarks about her at this meeting.

k) On November 13, 2018, you were asked to take an employment drug test. While your supervisor, Ms. Gann, was out of the office at an appointment, you spoke directly to me to convince me that you should not be drug tested. You threatened lawsuits, grievances, etc. Upon Ms. Gann’s return, you were antagonistic and insubordinate and would not allow your supervisor, Ms. Gann, to finish answering your question regarding the reason for the drug testing. On the way out, you advised me that you were going to sue ”her,” presumably meaning Ms. Gann. You then went by Ms. Gann’ s office and winked, saying you were going for your little test, then said, as you were leaving, that ‘”you will be sorry.”

• I [Irwin Felps, Jr.] propose to discipline you because of misuse of your work email throughout your employment, in violation of the LSPRS Email Policy:

a.  On dates ranging from January 17, 2017 to February 21, 2017, you used your work email to seek quotes, ask questions, and establish insurance for Sebastian Painting Contractors, LLC. In depth communications about quotes with both Juban Insurance Group and Tyner Jeter Agency were had during this time. In addition, the work scanner was used to send in hand written application to Tyner Jeter Insurance Agency.

b. On dates ranging from April 24, 2018 to October 26, 2018, you sent estimates, quotes, invoices, change orders, product and data information sheets, and submittals to companies on behalf of Sebastian Painting Contractors, LCC. The projects in which you represented Sebastian Painting Contractors, LLC by sending estimates, quotes, invoices, change orders, product and data information sheets, and submittals include: Alex Box Stadium, Marathon Zachary, DOW St. Charles, Westlake MCC building, Shintech, and a Substation Building Extension in Carville, Louisiana.


[4 – Highlights of 12/27/18 termination letter.]

4) Your performance reviews were generally good. As stated in my Notice, Ms. Gann and I took extraordinary efforts to attempt to move you onto the proper track as an employee. We could give you raises only if you received good performance reviews. These reviews assessed your performance of job skills, not your behavior in the office. You were very capable, Ms. Sebastian, and intelligent and able to learn and perform well when you wanted to do so. This past year in particular, however, evidenced even more your unwillingness to perform well consistently. More important, your behavior has become intolerable. While you have the job skills necessary for this position, you only exercise those skills erratically, and cause much commotion in the office which has taken valuable time away from the job duties of the rest of us in dealing with your unacceptable behavior. Another example of poor performance just discovered during our investigation is the discovery of the documents attached as Exhibit A, which were all found under your printer. These should have been properly filed long ago.


[5 – Highlights of 1/18/19 notice of pending appeal.]

Ms. Sebastian was placed on suspension in November 2018 pending investigation, but no event occurred in this month to justify the request for suspension and/or drug test.   The drug test obviously came back negative, because each communication received thereafter makes no mention of the results as another reason to terminate employment. If the reason Ms. Sebastian was suspended and placed on investigation stemmed from events that warranted the need of a drug test, I [Sebastian attorney Tammeral Hills] would believe this information is vital to making its decision to terminate employment. The absence of this information is telling. Due to not being able to substantiate an alleged abuse of prescription medication, Ms. Sebastian is being terminated for things that occurred in prior years. It could be assumed that the damaging allegation of the abuse of prescription medication was merely a way to terminate and/or force Ms. Sebastian to quit her job.

The request for a drug test is not in compliance with Louisiana Law nor LSPRS policy.

LSPRB:  [Testing is permitted even for prescribed drugs not being used for prescribed purposes or being used by one other than the person for whom prescribed.]

It is not clear where LSPRS authority for the statement, “‘the test is permitted for prescribed drugs not being used for prescribed purposes or being used by one other than the person for whom prescribed.” This statement is not located in the LSPRS drug policy.

[LSPRB]:  [We reminded you that LSPRS drug policy required you to produce evidence of any prescription drugs you were taking that could affect your job performance, and to provide to us a letter from your doctor assuring us that the prescription would not impact the performance of your job.]

This demand violates Ms. Sebastian’s right to privacy. She should not have to provide a list of her prescription medication to her employer on demand. Asking Ms. Sebastian about the prescription medications she is taking is considered a disability related inquiry under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). A request for such information is generally not job related, as evidenced by Ms. Gann stated she wondered if Ms. Sebastian was ok to drive, but her job duties do not include driving. It is questionable what job aspect Ms. Gann was referring to when a drug test was demanded.

[LSPRB]:  [You produced no evidence of such prescriptions.]

Ms. Sebastian does not have to produce evidence of prescription to her employer on demand. This violates her right to privacy and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

[LSPRB]:  [We conducted the drug test in full compliance with your attorney’s instructions.]

Attorney Hills at no time provided instruction to any person concerning this drug test. This statement is a complete fabrication. It is unclear as to the reason LSPRS felt the need to include this false statement in an attempt to imply the request for this test was legal according to Ms. Sebastian’s attorney. I, Tammeral J. Hills can say with complete confidence and as an officer of the Court this never happened.

According to the Notice of Proposed Action, Ms. Sebastian received a letter to an onsite and offsite testing location. Ms. Sebastian expressed her concerns and was given a second location to remedy these concerns. At no point during this exchange did LSPRS alleged they consulted with Ms. Sebastian’s attorney. Likely because this allegation is false.


[6 – Highlights of 4/29/19 notice of pending appeal.]

LSPRS is silent as to the facts and circumstances that warranted a drug test and a suspension pending investigation. LSPRS increased the number of infractions against Ms. Sebastian after it had to rescind its termination to make sure Ms. Sebastian would be terminated this time. The only problem is the reasons they seek to terminate her for is personal and nothing work related. Ms. Sebastian should be allowed to come to work and do her job without the interference of a supervisor who cannot stand her and who is attempting to make her work life miserable at any cost. Ms. Sebastian does not have to be friends with her supervisor to keep her job and avoid being slandered and defamed. Ms. Sebastian should be allowed to work in a stress-free environment, free from bullying harassment and intimidation tactics that she has endured for years.


[ 7 – 11/7/19 settlement (see below).]


So, there’s how the whole Shelley Sebastian matter ended up being resolved.

We are going to conclude with a few observations:

  1.  The preceding illustration demonstrates just how outdated and obsolete Civil Service has become.  At a recent conference attended by about 150 individuals, a nationally-recognized speaker stated that Louisiana is one of the few remaining states having such a civil-service system.  It is beyond absurd that an employer (in the case the LSPRB) has to jump through all these hoops to terminate an employee who, given similar conduct in private industry (particularly the negotiations being conducted for a family-owned business on LSPRB emails, etc.), would be terminated in no time flat with no recourse whatsoever!
  2. It’s not a wise move to make a thinly veiled threat of litigation as Sebastian is alleged to have done in essentially running a bluff.   LSPRB called the obvious bluff, and she lacked even a pair of deuces to try to win the poker hand.  If she made the threats of litigation (e.g. “you’ll be sorry,” etc.) as Felps/Gann allege, did she really think that utterance alone would intimidate them?  Geez!
  3. If one plans to sue a state agency, one better have the resources to be in it for the long haul.  What do we mean by that?  The State of Louisiana has an almost-limitless pot of money to fight a lawsuit.  That pot is called taxpayer dollars, and more than a few courtroom observers have made note of the fact that any sitting Louisiana Attorney General is more than happy to award contracts to defend state agencies to the firms known to have contributed to his (or her) campaign.  Those firms have a vested interest in racking up defense costs!  The plaintiff, on the other hand, at least if the many cases Sound Off Louisiana has reported upon are typical, has to hire an attorney who most often charges by the hour rather than contingency.  At best, the plaintiff may be able to obtain a combination of contingency AND straight billing for hours (e.g. $100/hour + 1/3 of award).  One attorney to whom we referred a gentleman contemplating suing a Louisiana State Licensing Board told the gentleman straight up that he’d certainly take the case and then informed him that his hourly billing rate is $500/hour and he’d need to remit a $15,000 retainer upfront.  The gentleman making inquiry of us suddenly lost his eagerness to sue the State Board in question.  Of all the cases we’ve followed, we’re aware of only one plaintiff attorney for one case who has agreed to a straight-contingency compensation.  One reason for this fact is likely the fact that winning a case against a state agency is always an uphill battle.  Furthermore, attempting to settle a lawsuit against a state agency often becomes a rather complicated and convoluted process entailing political alliances.  Absent such a settlement without trial, the legal fees are going to mount up quickly and massively.  A plaintiff better have significant (and we mean significant!) resources to compensate his (or her) attorney for representing him (her) against a state agency.   Calvin Braxton, on whom we’ve reported extensively, has clearly demonstrated that he has such resources.  Shelley Sebastian, on the other hand, is certainly a questionable party regarding having the resources to back up any less-than-subtle litigation threat she allegedly may have made to Felps and/or Gann.  Sound Off Louisiana founder Robert Burns, having worked with Felps some 30+ years ago, is able to state that one thing Irwin Felps, Jr. is not is either naive or ill-informed.  Thus, it’s a very safe assumption that Felps was cognizant of that fact even as Sebastian uttered the alleged threat.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise Burns even a little bit if Felps actually laughed off the alleged threat once Sebastian was no longer in his presence.
  4. If one is going to pursue litigation against a state agency, one should come to court with the cleanest hands possible, and LSPRB’s extensive documentation regarding Sebastian’s negotiations for a family-owned business demonstrates that she had anything but clean hands!  If anything, she should count her blessings that a decision was made to award her back pay as illustrated in the document above.  Sebastian may counter regarding “clean hands” that her accusers may have just as dirty hands or maybe even dirtier (and use the timing of the episode of “wiping” of computer hard drives to buttress her claim); however, such evidence at a termination hearing may likely be ruled inadmissible and, even if it’s true, it doesn’t excuse her behavior and instead merely serves as evidence that the ENTIRE agency  is irresponsible and wasteful of taxpayer dollars and should be abolished!  All of the state’s retirement systems need to be consolidated into one system and negate the need for these little fiefdoms and their internal turf wars such as those depicted above!

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