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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Hartford, Connecticut, argued the cause for the petitioners)
(Assistant to the Solicitor General, argued the cause for the United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of court, supporti)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Facts of the Case 

In 1999, Ronald Nussle, an inmate at the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut, filed a federal action under 42 USC section 1983, charging that certain correction officers had subjected him to a sustained pattern of harassment and intimidation and had singled him out for a severe beating in violation of the Eighth Amendment. In doing so, Nussle did not file a grievance under the applicable Connecticut Department of Correction procedures. Based on the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 (PLRA), the District Court dismissed the suit, finding that PLRA directs that "No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983...or any other Federal law, by a prisoner...until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted." In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required for a claim of the kind Nussle asserted. Citing legislative history, the appellate court found that the phrase "prisons conditions" covers only conditions affecting prisoners generally, not single incidents that immediately affect only particular prisoners.


Does the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 require that all prisoners seeking redress for prison circumstances or occurrences exhaust any applicable administrative remedies before filing suit?

Decision: 9 votes for Porter, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 42 U.S.C. 1997

Yes. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court held that the PLRA's exhaustion requirement applies to all inmate suits about prison life, whether they involve general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether they allege excessive force or some other wrong. The Court rejected Nussle's argument that Congress added the words "prison conditions" to exempt excessive force claims. Justice Ginsburg wrote that the Court's precedents and the act's "dominant concern to promote administrative redress, filter out groundless claims, and foster better prepared litigation of claims aired in court" persuade the Court "strongly away from classifying suits about prison guards' use of excessive force, one or many times, as anything other than actions 'with respect to prison conditions.'"

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PORTER v. NUSSLE. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_853>.
PORTER v. NUSSLE, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_853 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"PORTER v. NUSSLE," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2001/2001_00_853.