Unlike prisoner civil rights claims, most civil rights plaintiffs do not need to exhaust state remedies before filing a § 1983 claim against the government. This means that § 1983 is generally a cumulative cause of action, that can be brought along with any other relief allowed under state law. The civil rights attorneys at Miller Law Group can help you analyze all possible remedies if your rights have been violated.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that civil rights plaintiffs do not need to exhaust state judicial remedies before filing a § 1983 claim. See, e.g., Monroe v. Pape. These holdings are rooted in the legislative intent that gave rise to § 1983. This statute was passed during Reconstruction, when Congress was skeptical that southern states would actually protect the civil rights of former slaves under their existing state laws. Against this backdrop, it is common sense that a civil rights plaintiff would not need to seek a remedy under state law before resorting to federal law. If the law was passed to counteract inadequate state civil rights protections, it would not require individuals to seek a state remedy that was unavailable in practice.
Although this precedent initially only applied to state judicial remedies, the logic has since been extended, clarifying that there is also no need to exhaust state administrative remedies before filing a claim under § 1983. See McNeese v. Board of Education. This means that § 1983 is a cumulative right. Filing a civil rights action under federal law generally does not preclude any other remedy that may be available under state law.
The civil rights lawyers at Miller Law Group can help determine all possible remedies if your rights have been violated. Contact our offices today for a free consultation or call us at (919) 348-4361.