10 dental examiners sue 2 others for $30 million

May 12, 1994|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,Sun Staff Writer

A majority of Maryland's soon-to-be-ousted Board of Dental Examiners has filed a $30 million lawsuit against two fellow members, claiming they made defamatory remarks that prompted the legislature to dismiss the entire board.

The suit claims that Melissa A. Diemer and Susan W. Polydoroff falsely told legislators and other officials that they had been harassed or intimidated by their colleagues.

It also accuses the two women, both dental hygienists, of filing false complaints of sexual harassment against other board members in a separate matter last year.

The lawsuit in Howard County Circuit Court is the latest in a series of controversies to surround the 14-member panel, which is responsible for licensing and disciplining dentists and hygienists.

Long-simmering problems erupted in March with the release of a critical report by state auditors. The investigators cited the board for allowing 121 dentists to administer general anesthesia on licenses that were expired, some for as long as four years.

The board also did not appear to be complying with provisions of Maryland's open meetings law, which requires some government bodies to operate in public, the report said.

Investigators concluded that infighting was making it difficult for the board to function properly.

The board fought back, blaming the state health department and attorney general's office for some of the problems. A few members also accused Ms. Diemer and Ms. Polydoroff of stirring up the trouble.

But, with the support of the state health secretary, the General Assembly voted to remove the entire board, effective Sept. 30.

Lawyer William M. Ferris, who once served on the board himself, filed suit last week on behalf of nine dentists and one hygienist who serve on the 14-member board.

Two board members who are not in the dental field did not take part in the legal action.

Bringing the suit are dentists Curtis N. Adams, Edna Hirsch, J. Roedel Jaeger, Benjamin J. Kimbers Jr., Robert M. Phillips, Guy S. Shampaine, Sheldon Silverman, Melvin J. Slan and Dennis M. Sullivan and hygienist Tammy R. Doring.

Ms. Diemer declined to discuss the lawsuit yesterday. Ms. Polydoroff could not be reached for comment.

"These individuals went to anyone who would listen and made allegations that were false, and it has tarnished the reputation of deserving people," Mr. Ferris said yesterday.

The suit will not be easy to win because state law provides limited protection to people who testify before the General Assembly and who file complaints with the Maryland Human Relations Commission.

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