Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies

Before filing a lawsuit relating to the actions of an administrative agency, a litigant must typically exhaust all administrative remedies. Indeed, “[i]t is well settled that when an administrative remedy is available[,] such remedy must be exhausted before a court may give injunctive or declaratory relief.” Mo. Health Care Ass’n v. Mo. Dep’t of Soc. Servs., 851 S.W.2d 567, 569 (Mo. App. W.D. 1993). “This principle is founded upon the theory that agencies have special expertise and a factual record can be developed more fully by pursuing the designated channels for relief within the agency.” Premium Standard Farms, Inc. v. Lincoln Twp. of Putnam Cnty, 946 S.W.2d 324, 237 (Mo. 1997).

By statute, Missouri has created three narrow exceptions to this general rule: (1) the administrative agency has no authority to grant the request relief or the administrative remedy is inadequate, (2) the questions presented are constitutional issues or questions of law, or (3) requiring exhaustion of remedies would result in undue prejudice and/or irreparable harm. Section 536.050.2, RSMo.

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