Jacksonville dentist is challenging the Board of Dentistry

A Jacksonville dentist has gone to court in an effort to stop what he calls unfair tactics by a member of the state Board of Dentistry.

Attorneys for Dr. Howard Fetner are asking the First District Court of Appeal for a writ of prohibition or a temporary stay to keep the board from proceeding with a probable cause hearing to determine whether Fetner violated state rules.

If probable cause is found the facts of the investigation will become public record. That would damage Fetner’s reputation, the appeal says.

It is the latest move in a two-year dispute between a dental practice in Miami and the former owners. One of the owners was Dr. Jose Mellado, current chairman of the dentistry board. The appeal claims Mellado instigated the board’s actions, through his attorney.

Last month, Fetner filed an emergency motion to disqualify every member of the Probable Cause Panel of the board and the petition alleges that the motion effectively was denied through the lack of a timely response.

According to the suit, board chair Mellado and his wife, Dr. Ann Cabrerizo, are plaintiffs in a contentious lawsuit against Fetner.

“Whether it be another chess piece in the civil lawsuit, or simply a vendetta against Dr. Fetner, the entire disciplinary licensure process related to the investigation has been orchestrated by Board Chair Mellado and has been tainted,” Fetner’s petition says.

The dispute between Fetner and Mellado goes back to 2022 when a company named ACPDO paid nearly $25 million to them for the non-clinical assets of the practice. The appeal claims the couple engaged in disruptive behavior that violated the terms of the employment agreement and ultimately led to Mellado’s replacement as CEO with Fetner and the termination of Cabrerizo.

Mellado filed suit then made accusations against Fetner that resulted in the arrests of five employees of the practice, in what was colorfully called “Operation Tooth Fairy Heist.” But after investigating the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office declined to file any charges against the employees. The Office of Statewide Prosecution also refused to pursue criminal charges.

Fetner’s appeal said the actions of Mellado were “fueled by vengeance and monetary gain” He said the Board of Dentistry’s action against him is part of Mellado’s “ongoing, scorched-earth tactics.”

If, as the latest legal claim asserts, this all is a brazen attempt by Mellado to use the dentistry board to assist him in his lawsuit, the regulatory board should clean up its act immediately.

Lloyd Brown

Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.


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