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Florida Second DCA rules that plaintiff’s lawsuit under Florida Whistle-blower’s Act was subject to dismissal for failure to first pursue administrative remedies

On April 26, 2019, in The School Board of Hillsborough County v. Woodford, No. 2D18-1463,  the Florida Second DCA reversed a trial court’s denial of the defendant school board’s motion to dismiss in a case brought by a school board employee under Section 112.3187, Florida Statutes (the “Florida Whistle-blower’s Act”).  The plaintiff filed her lawsuit without knowledge of the fact that that the school board had entered into a contract with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) for the adjudication of administrative disputes.  The  school board maintained that under the express provisions of Section 112.3187 this triggered a duty on the plaintiff’s part to submit the case for an administrative hearing as a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit.  The plaintiff countered that that the DOAH contract was inapplicable because it did not explicitly reference the Whistle-blower's Act and she was never provided any notice by the school board of the DOAH contract.  The Second DCA concluded that neither of these conditions was a prerequisite to the administrative referral requirement.