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Miller v. City of Portland

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 03-27-2013
Case #: A145318
Sercombe, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Hadlock, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A145318.pdf

Administrative Law: Under the doctrine of exhaustion, for an aggrieved party to exhaust its administrative remedies, an administrative remedy must be available and it must adequately serve the aggrieved party's interests.

Disabled firefighters (Employees), appealed summary judgment against them for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Under Section 5-306 of the City of Portland's charter, the City's Fire and Police Disability Retirement and Death Benefit Plan (FPDR) provides disability benefits to employees. The Employees, who had been receiving FPDR benefits for a number of years, received notice that they were required to attend EMT training as part of the City's "return-to-work" program, and that failure to attend would result in suspension or termination of their FPDR benefits. The Employees filed suit in circuit court for breach of contract. The City filed for summary judgment on the grounds that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the Employees failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required under section 5-202(h) of the City's charter. Under the doctrine of exhaustion, for an aggrieved party to exhaust its administrative remedies, an administrative remedy must be available and it must adequately serve the aggrieved party's interests. The Court held subject matter jurisdiction existed because the Employees' participation in the program eliminated any administrative remedies available to exhaust under section 5-202(h) of the City's charter. Reversed and remanded in part; otherwise affirmed.