Darby v. Cisneros, 509 U.S. 137, 6 (1993)

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142

DARBY v. CISNEROS

Opinion of the Court

Neither petitioners nor respondents sought further administrative review of the ALJ's "Initial Decision and Order."

On May 31, 1990, petitioners filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. They sought an injunction and a declaration that the administrative sanctions were imposed for purposes of punishment, in violation of HUD's own debarment regulations, and therefore were "not in accordance with law" within the meaning of 10(e)(B)(1) of the APA, 5 U. S. C. 706(2)(A).

Respondents moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that petitioners, by forgoing the option to seek review by the Secretary, had failed to exhaust administrative remedies. The District Court denied respondents' motion to dismiss, reasoning that the administrative remedy was inadequate and that resort to that remedy would have been futile. App. to Pet. for Cert. 29a. In a subsequent opinion, the District Court granted petitioners' motion for summary judgment, concluding that the "imposition of debarment in this case encroached too heavily on the punitive side of the line, and for those reasons was an abuse of discretion and not in accordance with the law." Id., at 19a.

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed. Darby v. Kemp, 957 F. 2d 145 (1992). It recognized that neither the National Housing Act nor HUD regulations expressly mandate exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to filing suit. The court concluded, however, that the District Court had erred in denying respondents' motion to dismiss, because there was no evidence to suggest that further review would have been futile or that the Secretary would have abused his discretion by indefinitely extending the time limitations for review.

The court denied petitioners' petition for rehearing with suggestion for rehearing en banc. See App. to Pet. for Cert. 93a. In order to resolve the tension between this and the APA, as well as to settle a perceived conflict among the

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