AUGUSTA — Faced with the prospect of hearing two weeks’ worth of new testimony on the remaining charges levied against Lewiston oral surgeon Jan Kippax, the Maine Board of Dental Practice Friday agreed to ask a state court to handle the case instead.

In a unanimous vote, the panel agreed to ask a district court to decide what penalties Kippax should face following allegations he mistreated patients by ignoring their complaints about pain during surgery.

It is unclear when, if ever, the state might renew its effort to suspend or revoke Kippax’s license to practice. But an assistant attorney general said officials are still pressing ahead with it.

At one point in the session, one of Kippax’s former patients, Stuart Smith, asked if he could speak. After he was told he could not, Smith walked out after loudly denouncing Kippax as “a brutal sadist.”

The dental board has spent many hours over the past 13 months dealing with a litany of complaints filed against Kippax. Five of the most serious were brought to a hearing last fall that ultimately cleared the longtime dentist on 64 complaints brought by five patients.

But another 13 patients’ cases that include about 120 more specific allegations remain active.

Auburn lawyer James Belleau, who represents Kippax, sought to convince the panel to allow Dr. Mark Zajkowski of South Portland, a new member, to take another look at the remaining charges because he is an oral surgeon.

When the dental panel investigated the complaints against Kippax in 2016 and 2017, it did not have any oral surgeons among its nine members.

But dental overseers rejected that argument. They said Zajkowski would be more valuable as part of the panel hearing Kippax’s case. He could not do both.

Kippax was initially suspended from practicing dentistry more than a year ago when the board cited 18 cases in which it charged he acted unprofessionally.

In the end, however, it decided to hear only five of the patients in a hearing that started in late September and finished, with some long breaks between sessions, at the end of December.

Belleau said the decision to send Kippax’s case to court wasn’t proper because the law says a professional oversight board can only do that when it finds grounds for revoking or suspending a license.

He argued that after clearing Kippax of every charge it heard, the board can hardly maintain that there are grounds to penalize him so severely now.

“There was no basis to discipline him in the first place,” Belleau said.

But the panel sided with the advice of the hearing officer who has guided the proceedings since last April, Mark Terison.

Terison said he has “never seen a case like this” that demands so much from the members of the board in terms of their time and attention. He said the voluminous nature of the case is unusual.

Terison also pointed out that a judge could schedule a hearing and then plunge into it day after day until it was over. The dental panel, whose members have jobs and patients of their own, can only devote an occasional day or weekend to the task, so it winds up spread over the course of months.

Dr. Glen Davis, a board member, said it would be more practical for everyone to see the proceedings shifted to the courthouse.

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