Are You a Dissident Dentist?

A message from Drs. Dennis Bradshaw, Todd Irwin & Nathan Russell, plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Washington Dental Service (Delta).


In February of this year, along with the Washington State Dental Association, we filed a lawsuit against Washington Dental Service (Delta) in response to Delta’s veto of bylaw amendments approved by 96% of voting members. We believe that the Independent Directors of Delta’s board of directors unlawfully rejected our efforts to improve transparency into the organization’s operations and make Delta more patient-focused. We also believe that the language of Delta’s own bylaws and existing law provide us with the arguments needed to win this case.

Our case is currently working its way through the legal process in King County Superior Court and our trial date currently is set for February 2020. WSDA will share updates as possible.

In August, we attended a hearing about a motion that we filed in the case. While the hearing itself did not directly impact the ultimate outcome of the case, it did provide us with an opportunity to gain insight on how Delta will mount its defense. 

Perhaps the most impactful portion of the hearing for us was listening to how Delta’s lead attorney described some of the member dentists of his client. Here’s a short excerpt from the hearing’s audio recording:

Delta’s attorney: “The dissident dentists went in there and they cut that whole part of Article 10 out…and they just said that we don’t need to consider the authority, if any, of the independent directors.” 

On three separate occasions during the hearing, Delta’s attorney referred to dentists who supported the bylaw amendments that were adopted at the November 2018 special meeting of the Delta membership as “dissident dentists.”

Delta Dental of Washington was created by our dental forebearers in 1954. For the first nine years of its existence, the organization was a subsidiary of the Washington State Dental Association. Past leaders of Delta saw its member dentists as essential to the survival of the endeavor. These leaders recognized the inalienable governance rights that the founder dentist members bestowed to member dentists.

The repeated vetoes by members of Delta’s board of directors – and the remarks of Delta’s attorney in open court – dismiss these facts. Years of actions by Delta that inappropriately interfere in our relationships with our patients, that enrich those in the highest positions of power at the company, and that demean the very foundation of what it means to be a dentist have left us fed up. 

The Oxford Dictionary of English defines “dissident” as “a person who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state.” Perhaps Delta’s attorney’s use of the phrase “dissident dentists” to describe us, while we sat in the courtroom and listened to his arguments, was intended to leave us feeling ostracized or demeaned. If that was his intent than he was grossly mistaken.

We embrace the name dissident given to us by Delta’s lawyer and will proudly (and literally) wear that name as a badge of honor. Would you like to join us?

We are excited to announce that WSDA is now selling apparel in honor of all the dissident dentists out there. We have shortened the phrase to one word: DISSIDENTIST. Consistent with the Oxford definition, we define DISSIDENTIST as “a dentist who opposes official policy, especially that of an authoritarian state.”


You can now purchase your DISSIDENTIST gear online here. All proceeds will support our ongoing litigation.

Real change can only occur at Delta when we, as members, stand strong and say enough is enough. We thank all of you out there who are standing with us.


Dr. Dennis L. Bradshaw
Dr. Todd R. Irwin
Dr. Nathan G. Russell