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Holt v. Mississippi State Bd. of Dental Examiners

Court of Appeals of Mississippi

February 11, 2014

Dr. Edwin Love HOLT, Appellant

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Clarence McDonald Leland, Anders Ferrington, Jackson, attorneys for appellant.

Stanley T. Ingram, Heather Philo Wagner, Jackson, Onetta Whitley, Travis Jonathan Conner, Jackson, attorneys for appellee.



¶ 1. The Mississippi State Board of Dental Examiners found that Dr. Edwin Holt violated several conditions of a consent agreement related to his practice of dentistry in Mississippi. Following his unsuccessful appeal to the Adams County Chancery Court, Dr. Holt appeals to this Court. Dr. Holt claims that the Board's decision was not supported by substantial evidence. He also raises numerous issues that center on the concept that the Board violated his due-process rights. Finding no error, we affirm.


¶ 2. In 2010, the Board initiated disciplinary proceedings against Dr. Holt based on three allegations that he violated the Mississippi Dental Practice Act by advertising and practicing outside of the scope of dentistry. To avoid a disciplinary hearing, Dr. Holt entered a consent agreement on February 25, 2011. Dr. Holt agreed that his license would be suspended for five years, but his suspension would be stayed for all of that period except six weeks. Dr. Holt was to serve his six-week suspension during two separate three-week periods. The consent agreement provided that Dr. Holt was forbidden from practicing dentistry " directly or indirectly" during his three-week suspension periods. Among other conditions, Dr. Holt was also

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obligated to successfully complete an ethics course, submit to unannounced inspections, and dismiss a federal lawsuit against the members of the Board.

¶ 3. Dr. Holt's first three-week suspension period was from April 7, 2011, through April 27, 2011. During that time, Dr. Holt went to his clinic in Natchez, Mississippi, and performed dental services on one of his employees. He also returned to the Natchez clinic to review treatment plans, critique another dentist's work, and participate in the " morning huddles." During the " morning huddles," Dr. Holt instructed the staff regarding the manner in which patients would be treated. The Board conducted an informal, nonadjudicatory hearing on May 13, 2011. The purpose of that hearing appears to have been to determine whether Dr. Holt was making adequate progress regarding his compliance with the terms of the consent agreement. During the informal hearing, Dr. Holt stated that he had not visited his clinic during the initial three-week suspension period for any purpose other than to feed his horses.

¶ 4. As mentioned above, the consent agreement provided that Dr. Holt's dental practice " shall be subject to unannounced, periodic inspections" during the stayed five-year suspension period. On Thursday, August 4, 2011, two investigators employed by the Board traveled to Dr. Holt's clinic to conduct a periodic inspection. According to the investigators, Dr. Holt and his staff interfered with the investigation. The investigators claimed that Dr. Holt instructed his staff to stand over them as they copied his files. The investigators also stated that they cut their investigation short because Dr. Holt acted hostilely toward them. Specifically, the investigators said that Dr. Holt kicked a bucket behind his clinic, and broke a lamp out of frustration at their presence. As a result, the investigators had to complete their investigation the following week after obtaining a search warrant from the Adams County Circuit Court.

¶ 5. On August 19, 2011, Karen Wilson, a licensing investigator supervisor for the Board, alleged that Dr. Holt had breached numerous conditions of the consent agreement.[1] On February 3, 2012, the Board conducted a hearing on Wilson's complaint. That same day, the Board held that Dr. Holt had committed eleven breaches of the consent agreement. Consequently, the Board rescinded the previous stay. In effect, the Board suspended Dr. Holt's license until February 25, 2016.

¶ 6. Dr. Holt appealed to the chancery court. He claimed that the Board erred when it suspended his license for five years. Specifically, Dr. Holt argued that the Board should not have found that: (1) he directly practiced dentistry while his license was suspended; (2) he indirectly practiced dentistry while his license was suspended; (3) he answered untruthfully during a hearing before the Board; (4) he interrupted the Board's inspection; (5) he failed to dismiss his lawsuit with prejudice as required by the consent order; (6) he failed to complete the ethics program as required by the consent order; and (7) he had over-sedated some of his patients. Dr. Holt also claimed that the Board violated his due-process rights during practically every stage of the proceedings before the Board. The chancellor held that there was not substantial evidence to support the Board's finding that Dr. Holt had interrupted a periodic inspection. The chancellor also found that the Board had violated Dr. Holt's right to due process

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when it failed to provide discovery related to its claim that he had over-sedated some of his patients. Otherwise, the chancellor affirmed the remainder of the Board's decisions. Dr. Holt appeals.


¶ 7. " Judicial review of an administrative decision is limited." McFadden v. Miss. State Bd. of Med. Licensure,735 So.2d 145, 151 (¶ 20) (Miss.1999). This Court will not disturb an administrative agency's decision unless the decision is unsupported by substantial evidence, arbitrary or capricious, beyond the scope or power granted to the agency, or in violation of one's constitutional rights. Dawson v. Miss. State Bd. of Massage Therapy, 949 So.2d 829, 831 (¶ 5) (Miss.Ct.App.2006). " A rebuttable presumption exists in favor of [an] administrative agency['s] decisions." Id. " Reviewing courts are bound by the record, and are prohibited from reweighing the facts of the case." Id. ...

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