Zoeller goes after closed Allcare Dental chain

A chain of dental offices that abruptly closed multiple Indiana locations in December 2010 left patients without care, refunds or records, according to a complaint filed by the Office of the Indiana Attorney General.

Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed a complaint against Allcare Dental & Dentures, which closed offices in Anderson, Avon, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Mishawaka and Muncie. The complaint alleges multiple licensing violations against company president Robert Bates.

The AG’s office said in a statement that it filed a complaint with the Indiana State Board of Dentistry, claiming that Bates gave employees two days notice that offices would close for two weeks beginning Dec. 18, 2010. Days before the offices were to reopen, Bates told workers that the offices were permanently closed.

The complaint says Allcare failed to reimburse patients who paid upfront for services that weren’t completed; failed to complete dental procedures in progress; and didn’t provide dentures that were fabricated. The Board of Dentistry is unable to provide restitution to customers, but Zoeller said consumer restitution is being sought separately by his office through bankruptcy proceedings.

“This formal licensing complaint is part of our office’s consumer protection effort to hold Indiana’s professional license holders to the standards required by the state – both in terms of quality of care and service,” Zoeller said in a prepared statement.
 
According to the AG’s office, Bates’ failure to notify patients of the closing violates state law requiring dentists to notify patients in writing or by publication once a week for three consecutive weeks in the newspaper. The AG’s office said dentists were locked out of their offices and unable to notify patients or make reasonable arrangements to transfer patient records as the law requires.

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio and West Virginia also have taken actions against Bates’ dental licenses for similar violations. Bates has settled or been party to consent agreements with the licensing boards of each of those states, according to the AG’s complaint.

The Indiana State Board of Dentistry is scheduled to conduct a hearing on the complaint Oct. 5.

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