Judge rules against AOS in bankruptcy case

July 30, 2013

A recent court judgment in the American Optometric Society (AOS) bankruptcy case moved the case from Chapter 11 reorganization to Chapter 7 liquidation.

A recent court judgment in the American Optometric Society (AOS) bankruptcy case moved the case from Chapter 11 reorganization to Chapter 7 liquidation. Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an entity is required to stop all operations and go out of business. Then, an appointed trustee liquidates the entity’s assets in order pay off debt.

Judge Mark S. Wallace converted the case for cause, including substantial or continuing loss to or diminution of the estate and the absence of a reasonable likelihood of rehabilitation. He also stated in the ruling that there is bad faith in filing the petition and the debtor’s’ plan.

“The AOS clearly lost the lawsuit last year, and they owe us $462,000,” says Paul Ajamian, OD, chairman of the American Board of Optometry (ABO) board. “They have no plan to pay us back. They don’t have the money to pay us back. The judge saw that by calling [the lawsuit] a bad faith effort. We’ve won every legal battle along the way. We are now happy to say that it’s over. There will be a court-appointed trustee to disperse whatever assets they have. I don’t expect that they as individuals will go away and will continue to attack us.”

While the judge has ordered the dismantling of the AOS organization itself, AOS President Pamela Miller, OD, FAAO, JD, DNAP, believes that the force behind the organization remains.

“I can assure you that the AOS isn't going away by any stretch of the imagination,” Dr. Miller says. “The passion and spirit of our members continue, regardless of any organization they belong to, and that will continue to be a powerful force in our profession. We have been able to speak for the individual optometrist, who has become disenfranchised by some of the 'leaders' in organized optometry. We have exposed many truths and many lies in a dedicated effort to make our profession stronger and our sister organizations respectful and representative of their membership and optometry. We remain committed to our membership and to our desire to help bring our profession together.”

The ABO, launched in 2009, is one of several groups offering board certification to optometrists. The group is approaching 10% involvement of ODs who have taken a board-certifying exam or registered for an upcoming exam, according to Dr. Ajamian. “A lot of people are waiting in the wings because they don’t feel the need to [take the exam]. They will wait and see if they’re forced to do it. A lot of people will sit on the sidelines for anything unless they have to do it.”ODT