Internal Lawsuit Is Troubling Topeka Dental Group

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)__13 News has learned a well known Topeka dental group is involved in an 8-dentist internal lawsuit with numerous allegations, including charges of a hostile work environment.

The Gage Center Dental Group of Topeka is the focus of that Shawnee County lawsuit filed in July 2011.

The plaintiffs are Gregory Johnson and his son Eric, both partners in the dental group.

The suit names the six other partners in the group, Anthony Pleviak, Robert Hall, Michael Gardener, Darin Loewen, Bruce Banks, Jeffrey Burkett and Brenda Vink-Wilson the office manager.

The lawsuit charges that in January of 2010, the other partners became hostile to the Johnsons, starting a secret investigation to find alleged improper conduct and making the office "An intolerable place in which to practice dentistry."

A hint at trouble is on the dental group website where six partners are pictured while Gregory and Eric Johnson are not.

The suit also alleges that the defendants communicated false information to injure the Johnson's reputation and tried to convince Johnson patients to change dentists in the group.

The suit cited heated exchanges and an intolerable and hostile work environment, allegedly all efforts to make the Johnsons leave the group.

A key element in the suit is a non compete clause, which basically states, if the Johnsons were terminated, the non compete would not be in effect, but if they left on their own, they could not practice within 20 miles of Topeka.

There are six counts in the suit and the Johnson's are asking for non compete clause to be ruled unenforceable due to contract breaches.

Court records indicate the suit is in mediation, however, if the case isn't settled out of court, the Johnsons are asking for a jury trial in Shawnee County District Court.

13 News contacted attorneys for both sides in the suit, neither wanted to comment.