Jones v. Block
Jones v. Block
Issue: Is exhaustion under the PLRA a pleading requirement the prisoner must satisfy in his complaint or an affirmative defense the defendant must plead and prove?
Holding: The failure to exhaust is an affirmative defense under the PLRA, and inmates are not required to specially plead or demonstrate exhaustion in their complaints Judgment: judgment for petitioners
Most courts view failure to exhaust as an affirmative defense
Rule 8(a) only requires simply a short and plain statement of the claim and the PLRA is not itself a source of the prisoner’s claim. These claims are brought under 42 USC §1983 which does not require exhaustion at all.
The PLRA dealt extensively with the subject of exhaustion, but is silent on the issue whether exhaustion must be pleaded by the plaintiff or is an affirmative defense. This is strong evidence that the usual practice should be followed, and the usual practice under the FRCP is to regard exhaustion as an affirmative defense.
Courts should generally not depart from the usual practice under the FRCP on the basis of perceived policy concerns
The FRCP do not contain a heightened pleading standard for employment discrimination suits and a requirement of greater specificity for particular claims must be obtained by amending the FRCP.
Specific pleading requirements are mandated by the FRCP and not as a general rule through case by case determinations of the federal courts