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Claim Exhausted When Prison Rules in Favor of Prisoner

The plaintiff complained of improper discipline and retaliatory reclassification and transfer At 506: "The violation of a constitutionally protected right is a sufficient injury for purposes of standing." The defendants had argued that the plaintiff lacked standing because he didn't have a physical injury and in any case the consequences of their allegedly unconstitutional conduct were over.

A prisoner's conditions claims are moot when the prisoner is released; they may be moot upon transfer.

At 508: "Asserting that alleged constitutional violations caused an emotional trauma which manifested itself by causing a preexisting skin condition to become inflamed does not satisfy the statutory prerequisite that McGrath make a showing of a prior physical injury from the defendants' conduct" (This appears to be a holding about the seriousness of the injury, not about the mind-body problem.) Id. n. 6: the fact that his skin condition was serious enough that he was tested for Lupus does not satisfy the physical injury requirement. This conclusion does not require dismissal of all the plaintiff's claims, just those for mental or emotional injuries (court cites cases holding that First Amendment claims are not barred by the statute). Injunctive claims for non-physical injuries are not barred.

At 509-11 and n. 7: the court reviews PLRA exhaustion law at length, and buys exhaustion in damage cases But (at n 7 continued on 510): "Thus, to the extent that McGrath has access to the grievance procedures, he must exhaust the remedies available to him before bringing suit in federal court By the same token, however, if there is no avenue for administrative relief, ie, if a prisoner is precluded from using the grievance procedures or if an administrative decision is unappealable, there can be no failure to exhaust administrative remedies"
At 510: An appeal of a disciplinary conviction does not exhaust with respect to a transfer that resulted from the disciplinary proceedings; the plaintiff should have filed a grievance about that.

At 510: The plaintiff alleged that he had filed an "informal grievance" concerning the loss of his library job and had received an indication that a job would be found for him. Since the grievance was, on paper, successfully resolved in his favor (even if the resolution was not carried out), and since a favorable decision cannot be appealed, the plaintiff had sufficiently exhausted.

At 510-11: The plaintiff alleged that placement in administrative custody is not addressable through the grievance procedures; that he did not get a hearing (and hence could not appeal) under the administrative custody procedure because he was deemed to have requested protective custody; the plaintiff has therefore "sufficiently alleged that there was no avenue for him to pursue administrative remedies with respect to his administrative custody claims"

Grievances and Complaints about Prison (513): An allegation that the plaintiff was transferred to punish him for reporting crimes to the courts stated a retaliation claim.

Transfers, Administrative Segregation, Procedural Due Process (514): Allegations of a retaliatory transfer and placement in segregation did not state an Eighth Amendment claim absent allegations of deprivation of basic human needs. Nor do they state due process claims absent atypical and significant hardship under Sandin. See: McGrath v. Johnson, 67 F.Supp.2d 499 (E.D.Pa. 1999).

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Related legal case

McGrath v. Johnson