In Parthemore v. Col, published December 6, 2013, the Third Appellate District affirmed dismissal of a pro per prisoner's lawsuit against an optometrist who was under contract with the State Department of Corrections when he treated the plaintiff. The plaintiff alleged the optometrist negligently gave the plaintiff the wrong glasses prescription, causing him to fall and injure himself, and that the optometrist falsified medical records to indicate plaintiff was legally blind, causing plaintiff's transfer to a medical facility. The prisoner exhausted his administrative remedies as to another contention (that the optometrist refused to schedule him for cataract surgery) but not as to the negligence and fraud causes of action. The trial court sustained the optometrist's demurrer based on the plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
The appellate court agreed with the plaintiff's contention that the Government Claims Act (and its requirement to present a claim for damages before suing) does not apply to suits against independent contractors. But it rejected the plaintiff's attempt to analogize that exemption to the requirement to exhaust a prison's administrative remedies. Prisoners must exhaust their administrative remedies as to a particular contention of independent contractor wrongdoing before suing the contractor.