Ross v. Blake

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: December 11, 2015
  • Case #: 15-339
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court below: 787 F.3d 693 (4th Cir. 2015)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Fourth Circuit properly used a common law “special circumstances” exception to the Prison Litigation Reform Act?

Respondent, an inmate, filed a pro se 1983 complaint against two prison officers, two supervisors, and three government entities in 2009. The district court granted summary judgment for the supervisors but denied it for the officers, and appointed inmate counsel. In 2011, one officer’s counsel contacted Respondent’s counsel, and requested consent to file an amended answer. That officer’s counsel filed an amended answer, including a new defense that alleged Respondent failed to exhaust his administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. In 2012, the district court granted summary judgment to both officers. Respondent appealed the dismissal of his claim against one officer in 2013, arguing that the officer had waived his exhaustion defense by failing to assert in in his initial answer or motion. The Fourth Circuit used the “special circumstances” exception to the Prison Litigation Reform Act and determined that the district court erred in granting summary judgment to the officer. The Court will determine whether the Fourth Circuit properly applied that exception.

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