Clients seek answers after orthodontist abruptly closes office

Clients seek answers after orthodontist abruptly closes office

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - David Collins always promised his daughter a set of braces. What was supposed to be a gift for her led Collins to Dr. Curtiss Daughtry's established orthodontic practice on Two Notch Road in Columbia.

"It wasn't immaculate or anything, but I had no complaints," Collins said. "The inside was clean. I paid in full, roughly $4,030."

That was back in January. From that point on, things were fine until his daughter came home one day.

"My daughter called me one day and said, 'There's nobody here' and she comes from Virginia!" Collins said. "And then, I got this letter in the mail saying he's retired."

Collins says he didn't receive the letter until last week. In the letter, the orthodontist does refer clients to other offices in Florence. However, there's a problem with that.

The office says they will not pick up his payment plan and clients will have to pay out of pocket for dentistry or orthodontist services.

But Collins isn't the only one missing money and services.

The property management company who leased this office as well as neighboring business owners say Dr. Daughtry's patients have been coming by trying to locate the doctor. In some cases, some have been looking to get their braces removed since last week.

Collins filed a police report last week, but we were able to find Dr. Daughtry at his Lugoff home. When asked about clients who say he took their money, Dr. Daughtry denied those claims.

"If that's true, then we'll get them a refund," he said.

Daughtry says an unspecified agent now has power of attorney who is handling his retirement and the closing of the practice.

"If there's any misunderstanding," Dr. Daughtry said, "We'll certainly sort that out."

After hearing from various sources that money troubles led to the sudden closing of Dr. Daughtry's Columbia practice last week, we took a closer look at his finances.

Starting in 2012, Dr. Daughtry's Florence practice, as well as his Lugoff home were in foreclosure and are now owned by First Citizens Bank and Trust.

He also lost a debt collection case to the tune of $74,000 to a dental software company this year.

According to the SC Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, you can file a claim of abandonment when a practice is closed with patients in a critical stage of care and no prior notice of closing is given.

As for 15 years' worth of medical records Dr. Daughtry's practice had?

"You and I are entitled to copies of those," said Juliana Harris with SC Consumer Affairs. "Whether we've paid our bill, have an outstanding bill, we are entitled to those records."

When it comes to getting your money back, consumer affairs experts say it's a matter for the court system at this point.

"Another thing you could pursue is magistrate court because that is for claims of up to $7,500," Harris said.

To request medical records from Daughtry, send a letter to: Dr. Curtiss Daughtry, PO Box 160, Fort Mill, SC 29716.

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