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:
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
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
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:
- 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.”
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