WELLS PHARMACY NETWORK, L.L.C. Plaintiff-Appellant,
IOWA BOARD OF PHARMACY, Defendant-Appellee.
from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Scott D.
pharmacy appeals the district court's ruling dismissing
its petition for immediate judicial review of an agency's
procedural order prior to the scheduled contested case
Michael M. Sellers of Sellers, Galenbeck & Nelson, Des
Moines, for appellant.
J. Miller, Attorney General, and Meghan L. Gavin, Assistant
Attorney General, for appellee.
Danilson, C.J., McDonald, J., and Scott, S.J. [*]
case involves the interplay of the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies and the statutory provision allowing
immediate judicial review of a procedural order. An
administrative procedural ruling is subject to immediate
judicial review if two conditions are satisfied: "
all adequate administrative remedies have been exhausted
and  review of the final agency action would not
provide an adequate remedy." Iowa Code § 17A.19(1)
(2015). Upon our review, we affirm the district court's
dismissal of Florida-based Wells Pharmacy Network,
L.L.C.'s petition seeking immediate judicial review of
the Iowa Board of Pharmacy's procedural order prior to
the scheduled contested case proceeding. See Salsbury
Labs. v. Iowa Dep't of Enviorn Quality, 276 N.W.2d
830, 837 (Iowa 1979) ("Under section 17A.19(1), however,
an inadequate administrative remedy still must be exhausted
if judicial review from the final agency action is adequate.
This test is not so easily met.").
November 4, 2015, the board commenced a contested case
proceeding by issuing a "statement of charges and notice
of hearing" against Wells. Wells responded with a
"combined motion to dismiss and memorandum" as to
the first four counts charged. After conducting a hearing, the
board's written ruling noted the "motion to dismiss
tests the legal sufficiency of a challenged pleading, "
addressed the pharmacy's challenge to each count in
detail, and denied the motion.
Petition for Judicial Review.
to the contested case hearing scheduled for March 2016, Wells
sought immediate judicial review by filing a "petition
for judicial review and request for stay." Wells alleged
the board's "procedural order [is] reviewable under
Iowa Code section 17A.19(1), " claiming it "should
not be forced to proceed through a time-consuming and
expensive fact finding process." Wells asked the
district court to remand with directions for the board to
grant its motion to dismiss the four charges.
Motion to Dismiss Judicial Petition.
response, on February 18, 2016, the board filed a motion to
dismiss the petition under the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies, which provides the pharmacy may
obtain judicial review of agency action only after that
action is officially sanctioned and thereafter reviewed
within the agency to the fullest extent provided by law.
See North River Ins. Co. v. Iowa Div. of Ins., 501
N.W.2d 542, 545 (Iowa 1993); see also City of Des Moines
v. City Dev. Bd., 633 N.W.2d 305, 309 (Iowa 2001)
(noting the doctrine "exists principally to prevent
courts from interfering with the administrative process until
it has been completed"). The board argued "Wells is
essentially asking this court to grant [an] immediate
judicial review of a procedural ruling, " and while
there is a "narrow exception" to the statutory
"requirement for final agency action, " the
pharmacy's petition does not meet either of the
requirements for "immediate review." See Pro
Farmer Grain v. Iowa Dep't of Agric., 427 N.W.2d
466, 467 (Iowa 1988); Richards v. Iowa State Commerce
Comm'n, 270 N.W.2d 616, 619 (Iowa 1978). The board
concluded, if the district court finds Wells has made "a
valid request for immediate judicial review, every prehearing
order in a contested case would be subject to such review,
undermining the entire administrative law scheme."
Resistance to ...