Exhaustion of Judicial Remedies California
The doctrine of exhaustion of judicial remedies, as explained by the court in Knickerbocker v. City of Stockton (1988) 199 Cal.App.3d 235, is distinct from the jurisdictional rule that requires exhaustion of administrative remedies before filing suit in certain circumstances.
"Rather it is a form of res judicata, of giving collateral estoppel effect to the administrative agency's decision, because that decision has achieved finality due to the aggrieved party's failure to pursue the exclusive judicial remedy for reviewing administrative action."(Briggs, supra, 40 Cal.App.4th at p. 646; see also Westlake Community Hosp. v. Superior Court (1976) 17 Cal.3d 465, 484)
The purpose underlying the doctrine of exhaustion of judicial remedies is to prevent an aggrieved party from being able to avoid the preclusive effects of an adverse administrative action by simply forgoing the right to judicial review by failing to proceed in mandate.
If the party initially pursues a claim in an administrative forum in which the party has an adequate opportunity to litigate disputed issues, the party will suffer preclusive effects of an adverse decision or findings in a later action if it fails to seek judicial review of the administrative decision in state court through mandamus. (Miller v. County of Santa Cruz (9th Cir. 1994) 39 F.3d 1030, 1033-1034, fn. 3 failure to challenge upholding of employment termination by county civil service commission by proceeding in mandate precluded later civil rights claim because res judicata and collateral estoppel principles afforded preclusive effect to commission's findings; Misischia v. Pirie (9th Cir. 1995) 60 F.3d 626, 628-629.)
" ' "Res judicata" describes the preclusive effect of a final judgment on the merits. Res judicata, or claim preclusion, prevents relitigation of the same cause of action in a second suit between the same parties or parties in privity with them. Collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, "precludes relitigation of issues argued and decided in prior proceedings." " (Johnson v. GlaxoSmithKline, Inc. (2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 1497, 1507 83 Cal. Rptr. 3d 607.)
Collateral estoppel, or issue preclusion, has been described as a species of the doctrine of res judicata. (Id. at p. 1507, fn. 5, citing Mycogen Corp. v. Monsanto Co. (2002) 28 Cal.4th 888, 896 123 Cal. Rptr. 2d 432, 51 P.3d 297 doctrine of collateral estoppel is one aspect of the concept of res judicata though each has a distinct meaning.)
The doctrine of exhaustion of judicial remedies is invoked where there has been a quasi-judicial adjudication by an administrative tribunal, whether in the public or private context.
It requires a party aggrieved by such a decision to petition for relief in mandate in order to challenge the administrative action or findings before filing a legal action so as to prevent the adverse action or findings on issues actually litigated from taking on preclusive effect.
McDaniel v. Board of Education (1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 1618, 1621 52 Cal. Rptr. 2d 448;
Westlake, supra, 17 Cal.3d at p. 484 unless party to a quasi-judicial proceeding challenges adverse findings made in that proceeding through mandamus, those findings are binding in a later civil action;
Johnson v. City of Loma Linda (2000) 24 Cal.4th 61, 69-70 99 Cal. Rptr. 2d 316, 5 P.3d 874 (Johnson) FEHA (California Fair Employment and Housing Act; Gov. Code, 12900 et seq.) action that challenges decision of quasi-judicial proceeding is barred unless plaintiff first challenged decision through mandamus;
Rojo v. Kliger (1990) 52 Cal.3d 65, 86 276 Cal. Rptr. 130, 801 P.2d 373 doctrine of judicial exhaustion applies to situations involving public or private organizations whose quasi-judicial determination was the result of internal rules or regulations;
Gupta v. Stanford University (2004) 124 Cal.App.4th 407, 411-412 21 Cal. Rptr. 3d 192;
Pomona College v. Superior Court (1996) 45 Cal.App.4th 1716, 1722-1731 53 Cal. Rptr. 2d 662.)
Once an administrative decision has been issued, "provided that decision is of a sufficiently judicial character to support collateral estoppel, respect for the administrative decisionmaking process requires that the prospective plaintiff continue that process to completion, including exhausting any available judicial avenues for reversal of adverse findings.
Failure to do so will result in any quasi-judicial administrative findings achieving binding, preclusive effect and may bar further relief on the same claims." (McDonald v. Antelope Valley Community College Dist. (2008) 45 Cal.4th 88, 113 84 Cal. Rptr. 3d 734, 194 P.3d 1026.)
But there are conditions or predicates to the doctrine's application. These are that there must have been a prior administrative proceeding and that proceeding must have possessed the requisite judicial character such that res judicata or collateral estoppel principles may be fairly invoked against a claimant in a later action.
A prior decision precludes relitigation of an issue under the doctrine of collateral estoppel only if two prongs of that doctrine are met.
First, five threshold requirements must be satisfied:
"'First, the issue sought to be precluded from relitigation must be identical to that decided in a former proceeding. Second, this issue must have been actually litigated in the former proceeding. Third, it must have been necessarily decided in the former proceeding. Fourth, the decision in the former proceeding must be final and on the merits. Finally, the party against whom preclusion is sought must be the same as, or in privity with, the party to the former proceeding. the party asserting collateral estoppel bears the burden of establishing these requirements.'" (Pacific Lumber Co. v. State Water Resources Control Bd. (2006) 37 Cal.4th 921)
If all of these threshold requirements of collateral estoppel are met, the analysis determining whether that doctrine applies to give preclusive effect then looks to "'the public policies underlying the doctrine before concluding that it should be applied in a particular setting.'" (Id. at p. 944; see State Bd. of Chiropractic Examiners v. Superior Court (Arbuckle) (2009) 45 Cal.4th 963, exhaustion of judicial remedies does not apply collateral estoppel principles to bar later action where statute provides parallel, independent remedy in the form of action for damages.)
The doctrine of exhaustion of judicial remedies may apply in many contexts, among them actions for civil rights violations where there has been a prior adjudicative determination by an agency involving a plaintiff's claimed violation of the same primary right. (Swartzendruber v. City of San Diego (1992) 3 Cal.App.4th 896, failure of police officer to challenge decision of city civil service commission to uphold discharge by mandamus precluded later-asserted action in tort and for federal civil rights violations as plaintiff was bound by unreviewed administrative findings involving same primary right, disapproved on another ground in Johnson, supra, 24 Cal.4th at p. 72.)