Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 3 (1994)

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Cite as: 511 U. S. 825 (1994)


prospective relief. The subjective test adopted today is consistent with the principle that "[o]ne does not have to await the consummation of threatened injury to obtain preventive relief." Pennsylvania v. West Virginia, 262 U. S. 553. In a suit for prospective relief, the subjective factor, deliberate indifference, "should be determined in light of the prison authorities' current attitudes and conduct," Helling v. McKinney, 509 U. S. 25, 36: their attitudes and conduct at the time suit is brought and persisting thereafter. In making the requisite showing of subjective culpability, the prisoner may rely on developments that postdate the pleadings and pretrial motions, as prison officials may rely on such developments to show that the prisoner is not entitled to an injunction. A court that finds the Eighth Amendment's objective and subjective requirements satisfied may grant appropriate injunctive relief, though it should approach issuance of injunctions with the usual caution. A court need not ignore a prisoner's failure to take advantage of adequate prison procedures to resolve inmate grievances, and may compel a prisoner to pursue them. Pp. 845-847. 2. On remand, the District Court must reconsider its denial of petitioner's Rule 56(f) discovery motion and apply the Eighth Amendment principles explained herein. The court may have erred in placing decisive weight on petitioner's failure to notify respondents of a danger, and such error may have affected the court's ruling on the discovery motion, so that additional evidence may be available to petitioner. Neither of two of respondents' contentions—that some of the officials had no knowledge about the confinement conditions and thus were alleged to be liable only for the transfer, and that there is no present threat that petitioner will be placed in a penitentiary—is so clearly correct as to justify affirmance. Pp. 848-851.

Vacated and remanded.

Souter, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Rehnquist, C. J., and Blackmun, Stevens, O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Ginsburg, JJ., joined. Blackmun, J., post, p. 851, and Stevens, J., post, p. 858, filed concurring opinions. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, post, p. 858.

Elizabeth Alexander argued the cause for petitioner. With her on the briefs were Alvin J. Bronstein, by appointment of the Court, 510 U. S. 941, and Steven R. Shapiro.

Deputy Solicitor General Bender argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Solicitor General


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