North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission
March 3, 2014
Case #: 13-534
Court Below: 717 F.3d 359 (2013)
Full Text Opinion: http://www2.bloomberglaw.com/public/desktop/document/North_Carolina_State_Bd_of_Dental_Examiners_v_FTC_717_F3d_359_4th
Administrative Law: Whether a state regulatory board may be treated as a private entity because the board is elected by market participants.
The North Carolina's Dental Practice Act makes it unlawful for an individual to practice dentistry in North Carolina without a license from Petitioner. Petitioner received complaints regarding non-dentists offering teeth whitening services at significantly lower prices than dentists. Following an investigation, Petitioner issued cease and desist letters to non-dentist teeth whitening providers. The non-dentists stopped providing whitening services and several manufacturers of teeth whitening products held off on entering the market for teeth whitening products in North Carolina.
The Federal Trade Commission issued an administrative complaint against against Petitioner, charging it with violating 15 U.S.C. section 45 of the FTC Act. The ALJ held a merits trial and issued an opinion finding that the Board violated the FTC Act.
Petitioner puts forward several arguments. First, Petitioner argues that it is exempt from the antitrust laws under the state action doctrine. Second, Petitioner argues that it did not violate section 1 of the Sherman Act which prohibits "[e]very contract, combination . . ., or conspiracy, in restraint of trade." 15 U.S.C. Section 1. Thirdly, Petitioner argues that it's actions did not amount to unreasonable restraint of trade under section 1 of the Sherman Act, as concluded by the FTC. The Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit denied to review the petition . The Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether a state regulatory board may be treated as a private entity because the board is elected by market participants.