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Plan on Filing a Deliberate Indifference Claim? You Must Exhaust Your Administrative Remedies!

Sept. 9, 2013

Florida deliberate indifference lawyer discusses why exhaustion of administrative remedies is the first step to a successful deliberate indifference to a serious medical need claim.

Over the last few years, the Florida Department of Corrections has been privatizing medical care. For profit prison healthcare companies bid for the work in Florida’s state prisons and jails. Sometimes a prisoner doesn’t receive necessary medical care because it cost too much money. Over the last few months, I’ve received a number of phone calls from folks who received terrible medical care in prison and/or jail. The facts of the cases suggested that the healthcare providers were deliberately indifferent to the incarcerated individuals’ serious medical needs; however, I was unable to help these folks because they failed to exhaust administrative remedies.

Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies/PLRA

The Prison Litigation Reform Act has a number of hoops, but the most important hoop, is the requirement that a prisoner exhausts all administrative remedies available before a lawsuit can be filed. One way to think of this requirement is that the courthouse door is locked to an incarcerated individual until he/she has followed the FDOC or local jails grievance procedures to a tee. Once the prisoner has exhausted his administrative remedies, the lock to the courthouse door is opened, and he is free to file a deliberate indifference lawsuit.

FDOC’s Grievance Procedure for Medical Issues

The Inmate grievance procedure can be found in the Florida Administrative Code Chapter 33-103 as follows:

  1. file a formal grievance at the institution level; if the grievance is denied;

  2. appeal the grievance to the FDOC.

If the appeal of a denied grievance is also denied, the inmate has exhausted his/her administrative remedies and they are free to file a deliberate indifference claim. One of thing is that you must timely file your appeal. If the rules are not followed and time limits are not complied with, the appeal will be dismissed.

If you have any questions about a Florida deliberate indifference claim, give me a call or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.