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Administrative Exhaustion Required in Suits for Damages

The PLRA exhaustion requirement extends to damage cases even when the administrative remedies don't provide damages The court resorts to the dictionary for definitions both of "available" and of "remedy"; the latter is defined as "to rectify," to "put right," or as a means of "counteracting or removing an outward evil of any kind" Since a remedy may address the underlying problem and make sure it doesn't happen again (in this case, breach of plaintiff's protective custody status), even though it doesn't provide damages, it is an available remedy The court then reiterates the familiar arguments supporting exhaustion in these circumstances Note that the court broadens the definition of "remedy" in a way that makes the usual controversy over the word "available" irrelevant. This is unusual.

The plaintiff claimed that he did not understand the grievance system, but undisputed evidence showed that it was explained specifically to him, including the requirement that he informally raise the problem first with the responsible official.

At 551: "The Warden [of the prison where plaintiff is now held] will be directed to advise plaintiff as to how he can now exhaust his administrative remedies The question whether plaintiff may refile his suit if now precluded from utilizing the VDOC grievance system is neither reached, nor decided at this time" See: Langford v. Couch, 50 F.Supp.2d 544 (E.D.Va. 1999).

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Related legal case

Langford v. Couch