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The Limits of the Elliott Doctrine

Preserving Civil Rights Claims in the Wake of a State Agency Decision

By Yolanda Carmen Vera & Brian Lawlor

With its 1986 decision in University of Tennessee v. Elliott, the Supreme Court continued to expand the boundaries of federal preclusion rules and their application to civil rights claims; Elliott was the first case in which the Supreme Court determined what preclusive effect should be given to findings of fact made by a state administrative agency, as opposed to a state court judgment, in a later suit in federal court asserting section 1983 claims.

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