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Alaska Supreme Court confirms: ‘Hoverboard dentist’ is banned from dentistry in Alaska


Alaska Supreme Court confirms: ‘Hoverboard dentist’ is banned from dentistry in Alaska

May 24, 2024 | 7:44 pm ET
By James Brooks
Alaska Supreme Court confirms: ‘Hoverboard dentist’ is banned from dentistry in Alaska
The Alaska Supreme Court is seen on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Juneau. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska Supreme Court has upheld the state’s decision to suspend the dental license of a man who became internationally infamous after extracting a tooth while riding a hoverboard.

Former dentist Seth Lookhart has been convicted of numerous crimes, including Medicaid fraud and standard-of-care violations that almost killed two patients. 

Sentenced to 20 years in prison with eight suspended, he sought to retain his dental license after it was revoked by the Board of Dental Examiners.

When the revocation was upheld by a lower court, Lookhart appealed to the Alaska Supreme Court, which ruled Friday.  

Lookhart is also appealing the criminal convictions that resulted in his prison sentence; that appeal remains pending in the Alaska Court of Appeals. 

In Friday’s decision, the Supreme Court said the state dental board did not violate state law or abuse its discretion when it revoked Lookhart’s license after a “fraudulent scheme of staggering proportions that jeopardized the health and safety of his patients.”

Among the court’s five justices is Jennifer Henderson, the judge who heard the initial case against Lookhart in 2017.

That case was the result of an extensive investigation by the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the Office of Inspector General, the FBI, and the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

In the subsequent trial, prosecutors demonstrated that Lookhart improperly used IV sedation — which was reimbursed by Medicaid at higher rates than local anesthesia — and extracted teeth more often than was necessary.

After Lookhart was convicted in criminal court, the state Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing sought to strip him of his license.

An administrative law judge concluded that Lookhart had shown an “astonishing range of misconduct” and agreed with the division’s conclusion that if Lookhart’s case didn’t warrant revocation, “no future case will.”

The state dental board adopted the judge’s recommendation that Lookhart’s license be revoked, but Lookhart appealed to Superior Court, arguing that the board’s decision didn’t follow prior precedent.

Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner upheld the revocation, concluding that “no Alaska case is factually comparable to the sheer scale of malfeasance here,” and that even though there was no prior precedent, the board’s decision represented a proper use of discretion under state law.

Lookhart’s attorney argued to the Alaska Supreme Court that state law narrowly constrains the board, and that without precedent, it wasn’t able to act.

Writing on behalf of the court, Justice Jude Pate disagreed.

While state law obliges the board to be consistent, “there is simply no prior case comparable to the scope of Lookhart’s egregious dishonesty and misconduct,” he wrote. “The board did not abuse its discretion in concluding that revoking Lookhart’s license was an appropriate sanction.”

Attorney Chester Gilmore, representing Lookhart, did not return a phone call or email seeking comment on Friday.

Attorney General Treg Taylor, speaking on behalf of state prosecutors, said in a written statement, “This case involved the most widespread misconduct of any licensing matter in recent memory, if not ever, in Alaska. We’re pleased that Dr. Lookhart will no longer be able to exploit vulnerable patients for his personal gain.”