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PLRA Does Not Preempt State Exhaustion Statutes

By: Brandon Sample

The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) exhaustion of administrative remedies requirements do not preempt Tennessee’s more generous exhaustion statute, The Court of Appeals of Tennessee decided February 11, 2002.

PLRA requires prisoners to properly exhaust their administrative remedies. Failure to exhaust results in dismissal of the prisoner’s suit. However, Tennessee’s exhaustion scheme is a little more forgiving.

The trial court in a suit over a prisoner’s alleged denial of access to the courts held that the PLRA preempted Tennessee’s exhaustion system and dismissed the prisoner’s suit.

The court of appeals reversed. The court held that the PLRA “does not contain an express preemption provision.” Further, the court found no inconsistency between Tennessee’s exhaustion statute and the PLRA. See: Pendleton v. Mills, 73 S.W.3d 115 (2001).

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Related legal case

Pendleton v. Mills