District judge sides with dentists in dispute with Delta Dental of Kansas

A Kansas judge ruled in favor of member dentists who said Delta Dental of Kansas' board of directors stripped their power with illegal changes to its terms, the Kansas Reflector reported Dec. 10.

Mark Troilo, DDS, and Christopher Leiszler, DDS, filed a lawsuit in October alleging that the insurer made illegal changes to its articles of incorporation and bylaws, including eliminating language that gave member dentists stockholder power and extending the length of board appointments while making them automatically renewable.

The nonprofit insurer's board was established by law in 1972. It comprises two directors appointed by the governor, four appointed by the insurance commissioner and four elected by dentists. The recent board changes prevented Gov. Laura Kelly from replacing board directors and gave dentist-appointed board members less voting power.

Sedgwick County District Judge William Woolley voided the board's changes in a Dec. 9 ruling.

"The six appointed directors adopted amendments to the articles and bylaws that illegally stripped the members of their powers, marginalized or eliminated the need for the elected directors to participate in board decisions, gave the six elected directors supermajority control of DDKS and gave the directors the exclusive ability to extend their terms,” Mr. Woolley said in his ruling.

Sarah Patterson, a spokesperson for Delta Dental of Kansas, told the Reflector that the changes were meant to block dentists from seeking changes to reimbursement rates and membership requirements.

"Those dentists have characterized Delta Dental's actions as a power grab, which is simply not true. The persistent efforts of those dentists to undermine the company really left the board with no choice but to take very limited steps to protect the company," she said.

In a Dec. 13 emailed statement to Becker's, Ms. Patterson said the insurer was being targeted by the two dentists, but it was encouraged by statements made by the judge that dentists cannot interfere with management of the company.

"While we are disappointed with parts of the court's decision, our position continues to be that the Board of Directors adopted a safety measure to ensure a very small group of dentists can’t enact illegal and harmful changes to the company that would harm DDKS, Kansans, Kansas employers and dentists," Ms. Patterson said. "We have spent the past two years defending the company from harmful and illegal attacks from a small group of dentists, and the Court has affirmed that we were right in doing so, even if the Court disagrees with some of the protections we adopted on behalf of the company. We will continue to work to ensure the company and our stakeholders are protected."

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