Schiffner, 55, is finally in the home stretch after his wife, Teresa Schiffner, 53, filed multiple grievances against the Fargo dental office where he initially sought care.
“Mine was the first complaint to get it started,” she said.
On Oct. 20, state District Judge Bobbi Weiler ordered the dental office, Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures, to pay more than $237,400 in restitution and $25,000 in civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and investigation costs.
The order said the business improperly charged fees against patient accounts for services not actually provided, or fees that were not properly disclosed ahead of time.
Parrell Grossman, head of the state’s consumer protection division, said more than 500 affected patients have been identified through a review of records.
The business at 4302 13th Ave. S., Suite 10, in Fargo has since paid the penalties and restitution to the state, which will be returned to those patients through refunds, Grossman said.
Those named in the order include owner and president Robert Bates, D.D.S., of Clarence, New York, and David Pennington of Palm Harbor, Florida, president of DP Business Services. The men also co-owned an assisting business known as Fargo Dental Support.
“They fully cooperated. They’ve been sanctioned,” Grossman said.
Though the state maintains the conduct was wrongful, those named in the court action do not admit any violation of law. Under the order, all parties are prohibited from charging such fees in the future.
A phone message left for Bates was not returned and The Forum was unable to reach Pennington. A phone message left for corporate counsel in Syracuse, New York, was not returned.
Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures and its supporting businesses were sold on Aug. 1, according to court documents. However, the new owners have not changed the name of the dental office.
The business released a statement on Thursday, Oct. 28, saying in part, there was “no admission of liability” with the resolution of the case and that it was “focused entirely on past administrative accounting procedures that are no longer in place.”
The business said it agreed to the resolution to avoid protracted litigation and to focus on “high-quality care to our patients.”
Fargo Moorhead Dental & Dentures issued the above statement in response to a court case that alleged the dental business improperly charged fees against patient accounts for services not actually provided.
The Schiffners settled their complaint with Pennington separately for $4,400 and are happy about the state’s action against the business and Bates and Pennington, who have a history of complaints over prepayments for unfulfilled dental work.
“They’ve done this before,” Teresa Schniffer said.
In January 2011, thousands of patients nationwide were left without care when Allcare Dental & Dentures abruptly closed its network of offices.
Founded by Bates and Pennington, Allcare said it was “severely cash constrained” and had no way to continue operating, according to media reports at the time.
Attorneys general in at least a dozen states were involved in the investigation of the Pennsylvania-based company, according