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Booker v. Robinson

United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Alexandria Division

July 14, 2015

Walter Delaney Booker, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
A. David Robinson, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

JAMES C. CACHERIS, District Judge.

Walter Delaney Booker, Jr., a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, has filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act ("RLUIPA"), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc. Plaintiff alleges that the defendants - Unit Manager R. Timmons, Lieutenant B.M. Claude, Sergeant T. Robinson, Sergeant G.D. Faulcon, Lieutenant Taylor, and Correctional Officer M.L. Rook - have violated his Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection rights and his rights under RLUIPA. Plaintiff also alleges that the defendants' actions constitute intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The matter is now before the Court on defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, to which plaintiff filed a response on February 26, 2015. Dkt. 33.

In addition, plaintiff filed his own Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial Summary Judgment, Dkt. 32, as well as various additional motions. For the reasons that follow, defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted in part and denied in part, without prejudice to their ability to file a supplemental motion on the merits of plaintiffs RLUIPA claim. Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied, without prejudice to renewal at a later stage of the proceedings, if appropriate. Plaintiff's Motions to Amend will be granted in part, and he will be directed to file a second amended complaint; his Motion for Discovery will be granted in part and denied in part; his Motion for a Restraining Order and Motion for Counsel will be denied, without prejudice; and his Motion to Strike will be denied.

I. Background

A. Undisputed Facts

Plaintiff, a Muslim inmate at Greensville Correctional Center ("Greensville"), began to grow "his natural goatee style beard" in 2012, in response to a change in Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC") Operating Procedure 864.1. Am. Compl. [Dkt. 7], at 7 ¶¶ 1-3. Plaintiffs beard "is around his mouth, beneath his mouth and on the bottom part of his face upon the chin, " id. at 7 ¶ 5, and he cannot physically grow his beard so that it covers his entire facial area. See Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment ("Pl.'s Resp.") [Dkt. 33], Ex. D, Aff. 1 ¶ 3. The amended operating procedure allows all offenders to grow beards no more than ¼ inch long without prior approval. See VDOC Op. Proc. 864.1(IV)(F)(1) (April 1, 2013). According to policy, "[t]he beard must cover the entire facial hair area with no shapes or designs cut into the beard.... To define the beard, the offender may shave hair that grows below the jaw line and above the line from the bottom of the nose to the middle of the ear ensuring that no shapes or designs are cut." Id . (IV)(F)(1)(c)(i)-(ii). It is undisputed that plaintiff's beard does not cover his entire facial hair area, but it does not contain any shapes or designs cut into it, and does not exceed 1/4 inch long. Am. Compl., at 7 ¶¶ 7-9; Pl.'s Resp., Ex. D, Aff. 1 ¶ 4; Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Summary Judgment ("Defs.' Mem.") [Dkt. 20], at 1-2. Defendants also do not dispute plaintiff's contention that he cannot physically grow a beard that is sufficiently dense to comply with Operating Procedure 864.1.

Operating Procedure 864.1 provides that, if an offender refuses to comply with any grooming standards, including the policies surrounding beards, he will first be ordered to comply. VDOC Op. Proc. 864.1(IV)(H)(1). If the offender does not comply with the order, he will be charged with a disciplinary offense. Id . (IV)(H)(1)(a). In addition, such an offender "will remain in segregation status until [he] is in compliance with the grooming standards or is housed in the Grooming Standards Violator Housing Unit [at Wallens Ridge State Prison]." Id . (IV)(H)(2); 41). In their affidavits, defendants state that non-compliant offenders "are not permitted to exit the housing unit to attend programming in the support building including school, law library and recreation. Offenders are not kept from meals for non-compliance with the grooming policy." Defs.' Mem., Ex. I (Timmons Aff.) ¶ 7. The source of these sanctions is unclear, as they do not appear to be among those enumerated in Operating Procedure 864.1. It is undisputed that, although plaintiff has received several disciplinary charges related to his non-compliance with the grooming policy, he has not been held in segregation for the pendency of his non-compliance, nor has he been transferred to Wallens Ridge.

On August 12, 2013, plaintiff approached Unit Manager Timmons and asked to have his photograph taken for a second identification card, as inmates are allowed one identification card with facial hair and one without. Am. Compl., at 7 ¶ 12; VDOC Op. Proc. 864.1(IV)(F)(1)(b). "Timmons instructed plaintiff that he could not grow his beard and he must shave." Am. Compl., at 7 ¶ 13. Plaintiff was not provided with a second identification photograph. Id. at 11 ¶ 74. Timmons also told plaintiff that his beard needed to cover plaintiff's entire face. Id. at 7 ¶ 14.

Plaintiff states that, on October 2, 2013, Lieutenant Claude and Sergeant Robinson refused to let plaintiff into the dining hall for lunch unless he shaved. Id. at 8 ¶ 21. On October 20, 2013, Claude prevented plaintiff from going outside for recreation unless he shaved, and instructed Sergeant Robinson to prevent plaintiff from going outside. Id. at 8 ¶¶ 24, 27. Claude also "harassed plaintiff for exercising his religious practice as a [Muslim." Id. at 8 ¶ 33.

On the morning of November 7, 2013, Sergeant Faulcon approached plaintiff "in a threatening and intimidating manner and stated shave or else.'" Id. at 8 ¶¶ 39-40. Plaintiff did not shave his beard. Timmons issued a disciplinary report to plaintiff on December 9, 2013, for which plaintiff was sanctioned.[1] Plaintiff states that he has suffered ongoing "harassment" from the defendants since his disciplinary offense. He also alleges that he has been denied the use of the law library on multiple occasions. Id. at 9 ¶¶ 57-64.

Defendants deny that plaintiff's meals were withheld. See, e.g., Defs.' Mem., Ex. II (Claude Aff.) ¶ 7; Ex. III (Robinson Aff.) ¶ 5. Defendants admit that plaintiff could have been forbidden from attending recreation, school, and the law library, but do not remember any specific instances of preventing him from attending these activities. See id Ex. I (Timmons Aff.) ¶ 7; Ex. II ¶ 7. Defendant Claude specifically states that he has never denied an inmate access to the law library due to grooming non-compliance, id. Ex. II ¶ 7, and defendant Robinson specifically states that he has never denied plaintiff access to the law library, id. Ex. III ¶6.[2]

II. Standard of Review

A court should grant summary judgment if the evidence on file "shows that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the burden of proving that judgment as a matter of law is appropriate. See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To meet that burden, the moving party must demonstrate that no genuine issues of material fact are present for resolution. Id. at 322. Once a moving party has met its burden to show that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to point out the specific facts that create disputed factual issues. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In evaluating a motion for summary judgment, a district court should consider the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party and draw all reasonable inferences from those facts in favor of that party. United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655 (1962).

Those facts which the moving party bears the burden of proving are those which are material. "[T]he substantive law will identify which facts are material. Only disputes over facts which might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. An issue of material fact is genuine when, "the evidence... create[s] [a] fair doubt; wholly speculative assertions will not suffice." Ross v. Commc'ns Satellite Corp., 759 F.2d 355, 364 (4th Cir. 1985), abrogated on other grounds by Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, 490 U.S. 228 (1989). Thus, summary judgment is appropriate only where no material facts are genuinely disputed and the evidence as a whole could not lead a rational fact fmder to rule for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). The nonmoving party must present some evidence, other than its initial pleadings, to show that there is more than just a "metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Id. at 586; see also Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325.

When both parties have filed a motion for summary judgment, a court must evaluate the merits of each motion individually and determine whether the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Philip Morris, Inc. v. Harshbarger, 122 F.3d 58, 62 n.4 (1st Cir. 1997). In reviewing these motions, a court must draw all reasonable inferences against the party whose motion is being considered. See Rossignol v. Voorhaar, 316 F.3d 516, 523 (4th Cir. 2003) (internal citations omitted). The court in this situation is not required to grant summary judgment for one side or the other. See LewRon Television, Inc. v. D.H. Overmeyer Leasing Co., 401 ...


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