Washington Law Review Online


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The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies requires plaintiffs to exhaust all available administrative appeals before challenging an agency’s action in court. Washington courts describe exhaustion requirements, thresholds, and exceptions with varying degrees of consistency and frequent muddled overlap. Despite the fact that administrative exhaustion widely impacts Washington litigants, the secondary literature on the topic is fairly sparse. And, given the doctrine’s confusing and harsh nature, it can bar judicial review of valid claims. This article aims to address both of these issues. First, we offer a comprehensive review of the doctrine as it currently stands, with the intent of assisting Washington lawyers navigating this tricky area of law. Second, we propose that Washington courts protect valid claims and preserve the integrity of administrative processes by equitably tolling the statute of limitations while a plaintiff pursues administrative remedies.