UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT
Raymond G. Toombs, Warden;
Peter W. Vidor, Named as Pete Vidor
on complaint, Deputy Warden; Ray Palmer,
ADW of Custody; T. Luna,
Submitted: March 20, 1998
Decided and Filed: March 27, 1998
ON BRIEF: Carson Lynn Brown, Munising, Michigan, pro se. Linda M. Olivieri, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL, CORRECTIONS DIVISION, Lansing,
Michigan, for Appellees.
Forty-two U.S.C. § 1997e provides in part:
(a) Applicability of administrative remedies
No action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.
(b) Failure of State to adopt or adhere to administrative grievance procedure
The failure of a State to adopt or adhere to an administrative grievance procedure shall not constitute the basis for an action under section 1997a or 1997c of this title.
(1) The court shall on its own motion or on the motion of a party dismiss any action brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility if the court is satisfied that the action is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief.
(2) In the event that a claim is, on its face, frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief, the court may dismiss the underlying claim without first requiring the exhaustion of administrative remedies.
Prior to the enactment of the statute, no significant
incentives existed to deter the filing of state prison petitions
raising insubstantial issues, and so in federal courts each year
prisoners file thousands of petitions and take thousands of
The new statute has extensive benefits. It recognizes that
it is difficult to explain why we require full exhaustion of
state remedies in habeas corpus cases involving life and
liberty, but allow direct access in prison rights cases under
§ 1983. As Justice Stewart stated in Preiser v. Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 491-92 (1973):
Since these internal problems of state prisons involve issues so peculiarly within state authority and expertise, the states have an important interest in not being bypassed in the correction of those problems. Moreover, because most potential litigation involving state prisoners arises on a day to day basis, it is most efficient and properly handled by the state administrative bodies and the state courts, which are, for the most part, familiar with the grievances of state prisoners and in a better physical and practical position to deal with those grievances.
In light of the plain mandatory language of the statute
regarding exhaustion of remedies, the legislative purpose
underlying the plain language, and the sound policy on which
it is based, this court will henceforth require that prisoners
filing § 1983 cases involving prison conditions must allege
and show that they have exhausted all available state
administrative remedies. A prisoner should attach to his
§ 1983 complaint the administrative decision, if it is
available, showing the administrative disposition of his
complaint. Exhaustion applies only to cases filed on or after
April 26, 1996, the effective date of the Prison Litigation
Reform Act. See White v. McGinnis, 131 F.3d 593, 595 (6th Cir. 1997).
District courts should enforce the exhaustion requirement sua sponte if not raised by the defendant. The statutory language, "no action shall be brought" until all available
remedies are "exhausted," should be interpreted to mean
precisely what is obviously intended . that a federal court should not prematurely "decide" the merits of any such
action. Federal courts should not adjudicate any such claim
until after exhaustion unless the complaint satisfies
§ 1997e(c)(2). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a) ("plain statement of federal court's jurisdiction" required and a "showing that
the pleader is entitled to relief") and Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(c) (requiring special pleading of "conditions precedent").
Because in the present case there is no indication that the
requirements of the statute have been complied with, the case
should be dismissed without prejudice, and the activity that
the new statute contemplates should now occur _ state
adjudication of the claims.
Neither will this court process or decide the merits of any
case on appeal that does not comply with the statute. Unless
the record demonstrates that the requirements of the statute
have been satisfied, the appeal should be dismissed without
prejudice for failing to satisfy the exhaustion of available state
Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is vacated and the case is remanded to the district court with instructions to dismiss the case without prejudice for failure to exhaust available administrative remedies as required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).