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Hagen v. Iowa Dental Board

Court of Appeal of Iowa

September 5, 2013

MARC A. HAGEN, DDS, Petitioner-Appellant,
IOWA DENTAL BOARD, Respondent-Appellee.

Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Bremer County, Colleen D. Weiland, Judge.

A dentist appeals the judicial review order affirming the Iowa Dental Board's sanction for engaging in professional practice after his license had lapsed.

John W. Holmes of Holmes & Holmes, Waterloo, for appellant.

Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Sara Scott, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee.

Considered by Vogel, P.J., and Danilson and Tabor, JJ.


A dentist challenges the sanction imposed by the Iowa Dental Board, which cited him for practicing dentistry after his license had expired in violation of Iowa Code section 147.10(2) (2011). Doctor Marc Hagen contends he timely mailed his renewal fee and application and did not realize the board did not receive them. Dr. Hagen argues the board should have presumed the paperwork was properly mailed and should not have punished him without proof he knew his license had lapsed. He also suggests the board's action may result in consequences grossly disproportionate to his conduct.

Like the board, we are sympathetic to the fact that Dr. Hagen believed he properly submitted his renewal application. But because we find no legal error in the board's interpretation of section 147.10(2) and applicable provisions of the Iowa Administrative Code, we affirm the judicial review order.

I. Background Facts and Procedure

Dr. Hagen has been licensed to practice dentistry in Iowa since 1996. He has continually practiced since that time. Dental licenses in Iowa expire on August 31 in even numbered years. Iowa Admin. Code r. 650-14.1. The board gives dentists a sixty-day grace period until November 1 to renew their licenses. After that, the board considers a license lapsed and invalid. Iowa Admin. Code r. 650-14.4(2). Under this regulatory scheme, Dr. Hagen's license was up for renewal on August 31, 2010. Dr. Hagen received his renewal notice and application from the board in July 2010. On August 30, 2010, Dr. Hagen purchased a counter check[1] from Veridian Credit Union payable to "Iowa Board of Dental Examiners" in the sum of $315 for his license renewal fee. Yet the Board has no record of receiving either the fee or the application. Dr. Hagen testified he placed the check and application in the mail during his lunch hour on August 30, 2010, but did not have documentation from the post office to support his recollection.

On March 10, 2011, the board fielded a call from an insurance company concerning the status of Dr. Hagen's license. The board could not find a record in its electronic database showing Dr. Hagen had renewed his license. Board investigator Brian Sedars met with Dr. Hagen at his dental office on March 14, 2011. Dr. Hagen was surprised to learn his license had lapsed and produced a receipt for the counter check he purchased on August 30, 2010. The bank confirmed the check had never been presented for payment. After talking with Dr. Hagen, Sedars confirmed with his office that the board had received nothing from Dr. Hagen in 2010. The last record the board had on file from Dr. Hagen was in 2008, the previous renewal period. Dr. Hagen immediately stopped practicing dentistry until he complied with the reinstatement process.

On December 16, 2011, the board brought charges against Dr. Hagen under Iowa Administrative Code rule 650-30.4(15) for practicing dentistry after failing to renew his license. The board held a disciplinary hearing on February 1, 2012. The board heard testimony from Dr. Hagen and investigator Sedars. The board issued an order on March 7, 2012, finding Dr. Hagen had practiced dentistry from November 1, 2010 until March 17, 2011 with a lapsed license. The board cited Dr. Hagen for a violation of rule 650-30.4(15) and warned him that further violations could result in more severe sanctions. The board also ordered Dr. Hagen to pay a $500 civil penalty. Dr. Hagen filed his petition for judicial review in Bremer County District Court on March 27, 2012. The district court affirmed the board's decision on January 7, 2013. Dr. Hagen appeals that judicial review order.

II. Issues Raised on Appeal

In his appeal, Dr. Hagen attacks the board's action on four grounds. First, he claims the board based its decision on an erroneous interpretation of Iowa Code section 147.10[2] and Iowa Admin. Code rule 650-30.4(15).[3] See Iowa Code § 17A.19(10)(c). Under this claim he addresses the common-law mail box rule and alleges a knowledge element in section 147.10(2) and rule 650-30.4(15).

Second, he claims the board did not consider relevant and important matters relating to the propriety or desirability of its action. See id. § 17A.19(10)(j). Specifically, Dr. Hagen argues the board overlooked his "shock" at learning his license was lapsed and his purchase of a counter check payable to the board as showing a "good faith effort" to renew his license as required.

Third, he contends the board's disciplinary action was not required by law and its negative impact on his rights will be grossly disproportionate to its benefit to the public interest. See id. § 17A.19(10)(k). As part of this contention Dr. Hagen speculates "third-party payers such as Blue Cross" may seek reimbursement for sums "far greater than ...

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