Supreme Court Issues Ruling in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC

On February 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v FTC case, affirming the lower court’s decision against the dental board. The FTC accused the dental board of anticompetitive behavior when it sent cease-and-desist letters to non-dentists offering teeth-whitening services. The dental board argued it was acting on behalf of the state and therefore was immune from antitrust prosecution under the state action doctrine. In a 6-3 decision, the court found the dental board was not entitled to immunity because it was not “actively supervised” by the state.

In North Carolina, the board is composed primarily of actively practicing dentists elected by dentists. The board can promulgate regulations consistent with the state’s dental practice act and that are approved by the North Carolina Rules...

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