Recently, a woman sued the Iowa Department of Transportation after her husband was killed on a local highway. However, before she was able to bring her suit in court, she was required to file a claim with her state’s appeal board, an administrative agency.
According to the court’s written opinion, the woman’s husband died in a motorcycle accident. She filed a claim alleging that the drop-off between the paved highway and the gravel shoulder was too steep, and that the Department of Transportation failed to maintain the highway in a safe condition. She asserted that the state Department of Transportation was negligent in maintaining the highway, and that the road’s condition caused her husband’s death.
The state appeal board did not take any action on the woman’s claim for over six months. She then withdrew her claim and filed suit in a court of law. The district court dismissed her suit, stating that the woman did not exhaust her administrative remedies before filing suit as the administrator of the estate, as required by state law. However, the state’s supreme court heard her case and held that she had properly exhausted her administrative remedies, allowing her case to proceed to trial without having the Department of Transportation rule on the issue.