Appeal from a district court order granting in part and denying in part a petition for judicial review in a professional licensing matter. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Kathy A. Hardcastle, Judge.
Agwara & Associates and Liborius I. Agwara and George A. Maglares, Las Vegas, for Appellants.
Louis A. Ling, Reno, for Respondent.
BEFORE HARDESTY, PARRAGUIRRE and CHERRY, JJ. Cherry, J. We concur: Hardesty, J. Parraguirre, J.
Appellants assert that the Chiropractic Physicians' Board of Nevada violated their statutory and constitutional rights by applying a lower standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings than due process allows. They further argue that applying a different standard of proof in chiropractic physician disciplinary proceedings than is applied in medical physician disciplinary proceedings violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. We hold that, in the absence of a specific statutory mandate, agencies generally must utilize, at a minimum, the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard in their adjudicative hearings as it is the general civil standard of proof. Because the preponderce-of-the-evidence standard of proof was ostensibly applied and met here, we affirm.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Appellant Dr. Obteen Nassiri owned and operated a Las Vegas-based chiropractic practice that specialized in treating patients who had been injured in motor vehicle accidents. The practice employed appellant Dr. Edward Johnson as a chiropractic physician, who later purchased the practice from Dr. Nassiri. At the time, both appellants were licensed chiropractic physicians in Nevada.
After an insurance company reported that appellants may have engaged in unprofessional conduct, respondent Chiropractic Physicians' Board of Nevada  filed complaints for disciplinary action against appellants, charging them with, among other things, unlawfully referring patients to other physicians, unlawful fee splitting, inaccurate record-keeping, fraud, and employing unregistered assistants. The Board heard testimony from four witnesses and considered numerous exhibits. It subsequently found, based on the " substantial, credible, reliable, and probative evidence," that appellants had violated multiple provisions of NRS Chapter 634 and NAC Chapter 634. As a result, the Board revoked Dr. Nassiri's license, ordered him to pay 80 percent of
the Board's fees and costs and a fine of $5,000 for each of the six violations that he was found to have made, and further mandated that Dr. Nassiri could not own, directly or indirectly, any interest in a chiropractic practice through any person related to him within two degrees of consanguinity or affinity until his license was restored. As for Dr. Johnson, the Board suspended his license for one year with conditions, ordered him to pay 20 percent of the Board's fees and costs and a fine of $1,000 for each of the five provisions that he was found to have violated, and imposed probation with conditions for three years to commence once the suspension was lifted.
Appellants petitioned for judicial review in the district court. They asserted, in part, that the Board's order must be set aside because the Board (1) used the wrong standard of proof--substantial evidence-and in so doing violated their constitutional equal protection and due process rights and (2) did not have the authority to prohibit Dr. Nassiri from owning a chiropractic practice. The district court granted in part and denied in part appellants' petition for judicial review. The court's order granted the petition for judicial review on the portion of the Board's order that prohibited Dr. Nassiri from owning any interest in a chiropractic practice through any person related to him within two degrees of consanguinity or affinity until his license is restored. With respect to the remainder of the Board's order, the district court adopted the Board's findings of fact and affirmed all of the substantive issues now on appeal, thus denying judicial review. Citing NRS 233B.135(3)(e) and Minton v. Board of Medical Examiners, 110 Nev. 1060, 1078, 881 P.2d 1339, 1352 (1994), ...