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Beating Claims Must Be Exhausted

The PLRA exhaustion requirement applies to use of force claims The plain meaning of "prison conditions" encompasses such claims ("conditions" defined as "restricting, limiting, or modifying circumstances") However, some courts think there is an ambiguity, so the court looks to Congressional intent In § 3636(g)(2) (sic), "civil action with respect to prison conditions" is defined to include "effects of actions by government officials on the lives of persons confined in prison," and "prison conditions" must have the same meaning throughout the statute; the "effects of actions" language encompasses the use of force This conclusion is supported by the PLRA's overall purpose to reduce frivolous litigation, since excessive force claims may be frivolous In addition, excessive force claims "typically come packaged, as here, with other, related claims indisputably subject to 1997e(a)" (327) Id.: "Moreover, in furtherance of the PLRA's purposes, it is important that prison administrators be accorded the first opportunity to remedy such problems"

The court rejects the argument that the amendment of the pre-PLRA exhaustion requirement to affect only "prison conditions" suits, rather than all 1983 actions, requires exclusion of use of force cases. There are other kinds of actions that could be excluded, such as those arising from arrest and conviction. The court also rejects the argument based on Hudson v McMillian and Farmer v Brennan, which distinguish between "conditions of confinement" and excessive force claims. The court relies on McCarthy v Bronson's holding that use of force claims are conditions of confinement claims for purposes of assignment to a magistrate judge.

The fact that only damages are sought does not excuse the plaintiff from exhaustion
The plaintiff alleged that he had been thwarted in utilizing the grievance system and the defendants denied it At 329: "This issue merits an evidentiary hearing.” See: Johnson v. Garraghty, 57 F.Supp.2d 321 (E.D.Va. 1999).

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Related legal case

Johnson v. Garraghty