Federal Agents Investigate Whether Arkansas Doctor Was Target of Car Bomb

Federal agents want to know whether a prominent Arkansas doctor was deliberately targeted in a car bomb outside his home — and who planted the explosives found in his Lexus.

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in Little Rock went Thursday to the offices of the Arkansas State Medical Board, which Dr. Trent Pierce presided over as chairman.

Local police said they have no leads.

"It's still a mystery to us. We have no idea," West Memphis Police Chief Bob Paudert told FOX News. "We have no leads at this point. As far as suspects, we have no direction to go."

The board is having scheduled meetings through the end of the week, and Pierce had been expected to attend before he was critically injured in the blast outside his house in West Memphis, Ark.

Pierce lost one eye and was severely burned in the Wednesday bombing in his driveway. He was on his way to work when an explosive device blew up in his car.

Board attorney William Trice said he knew of no disputes the chairman was involved in.

Pierce is, however, named as a co-defendant with a nursing home operator dogged by dozens of allegations of abuse, neglect and wrongful death in a case that last month made its way to the Arkansas State Supreme Court.

A judge on Jan. 22 granted a motion filed by Pierce to dismiss an appeal in the case, which sources told FOX News was a wrongful death lawsuit. As a result, he is no longer a co-defendant.

Click here to read the judge's decision to dismiss the appeal. (pdf)

Click here for photos.

The suit was brought by the estate of a deceased woman, Norma Louise Ramsey, against Pierce, a senior citizens' medical facility company formerly known as Beverly Enterprises — now called Golden Living — the Memphis Dermatology Clinic and other defendants, including Pierce.

Ramsey was 92 years old when she died in July 2004, according to her obituary in The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. There was no cause of death given.

In 2005, the state of Arkansas paid $1.5 million to settle 26 lawsuits brought against Beverly Enterprises. The suits stemmed from allegations of mistreatment and neglect of residents at 12 of its nursing homes.

It wasn't immediately clear whether the lawsuit naming Pierce as a co-defendant with Beverly Enterprises was among the 26 abuse cases. His medical license is listed as active.

A representative for Golden Living told FOXNews.com on Thursday that he couldn't comment on the case because it was still ongoing for the nursing home chain, though Pierce has been dropped as a co-defendant.

Pierce does not have any direct ties to the former Beverly Enterprises, according to spokesman Blair Jackson.

"He has no affiliation with our company," said Jackson.

But the fact that Pierce was linked to the chain through the state Supreme Court case prompted Golden Living to issue a statement about the attack.

"We were shocked by the bombing that injured Dr. Pierce, and we certainly wish him a speedy recovery from his injuries," the statement reads. "Because the lawsuit that involved Dr. Pierce and names Beverly Enterprises along with other defendants is still pending, it would not be appropriate for us to comment on it at this time."

Calls to the ATF, police and board attorney Trice weren't immediately returned.

In 2006, the Fort Smith, Ark.-based Beverly Enterprises was again sued — this time for $155 million in the neglect and eventual death of 84-year-old Loren Richards by his daughter and estate. The case went to trial.

The company has paid millions in wrongful-death lawsuits brought in several states in addition to Arkansas, including Mississippi, Florida, Virginia and Indiana.

In one such case in Evansville, Ind., involving the death of an 86-year-old woman who lived at one of the nursing homes, charges were brought against several individual caregivers and employees of the Beverly Enterprises facility. It went to trial, but all the charges were dismissed.

Beverly Enterprises/Golden Living owns and operates 325 nursing homes in 22 states.

Paudert said authorities were investigating who might want to harm the doctor.

"We don't know if this was a random target or someone specifically targeted him," said Paudert. He said it wasn't known if the doctor was in his car or outside it when the device exploded.

Paudert said Pierce lost one eye in the explosion and remained in surgery late Wednesday afternoon, after suffering severe burns to his face and shrapnel wounds.

"They're contemplating moving him to Ohio to a specialized burn unit," the police chief said.

Paudert said Pierce remains sedated and investigators have yet to speak with him. His injuries are reportedly not life-threatening.

The FBI said a second person was injured outside Pierce's home, but Paudert said only one was hurt.

The board agenda for this week's meetings that Pierce planned to attend includes at least seven doctors who previously faced discipline.

Trice said Pierce often didn't participate in votes by the board, which is responsible for licensing and disciplining doctors in the state.

"This is just off the wall," Trice said Wednesday. "It's just such bizarre circumstances."

The ATF would not confirm what type of device was involved in the explosion.

Pierce, a family physician and asthma specialist, was appointed in January 1997 by former Gov. Mike Huckabee. He is in his 50s, is married and has two grown children, his lawyer said.

Click here for more on this story from FOX16.com.

FOXNews.com's Catherine Donaldson-Evans and The Associated Press contributed to this report.