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Bayadi v. Clarke

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

August 24, 2016

HASAN BAYADI, Plaintiff,
v.
HAROLD CLARKE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          NORMAN K. MOON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Hasan Bayadi, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that the Virginia Department of Corrections' (“VDOC”) grooming policy violates his federal and state rights. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, and Bayadi responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. Having considered the record, I conclude that defendants' motion for summary judgment must be granted in part and denied in part.

         I.

         Bayadi is a Muslim inmate housed at Wallens Ridge State Prison (“Wallens Ridge”). Bayadi filed this action challenging VDOC Operating Procedure (“OP”) 864.1, the grooming policy, on the basis that it violates the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), the United States and Virginia Constitutions, and Virginia law, by placing a substantial burden on his religious practice because Bayadi cannot wear his beard uncut, as is required by his religion, without having to spend a year in punitive segregation for violating OP 864.1.

         On October 4, 2015, Bayadi filed an informal complaint, stating that OP 864.1 “is nothing but a way for [VDOC officials] to religiously harass Muslims, such as [himself], in violation of the RLUIPA and [the First and Fourteenth] Amend[ments], ” and Virginia law. Bayadi argued that the policy “forc[es]” him to “spend 6 months to a year in segregation if [he] wishes to practice Islam in compliance with Islamic law.” In support of his argument that OP 864.1, Bayadi cited to the “C-5 864.1 Violators Pod, ” a pod at Wallens Ridge where inmates are allowed to grow out their hair, and argued that the existence of this pod “proves” that long-haired inmates are not hygiene, security, or identification threats. On October 7, 2015, in response to his informal complaint, Unit Manager Collins stated that Bayadi's “current status is being reviewed by the Restricted Housing committee” and if the committee agrees, Bayadi “will be provided the opportunity to go to the C-5 pod which houses 864 violators.”

         On October 7, 2015, Bayadi filed a regular grievance, stating that Unit Manager Collins did not understand the issue Bayadi raised in his informal complaint. Bayadi explained that he did not want to go to the 864.1 Violators Pod, but rather he referenced that pod as “proof” that there are no legitimate reasons for the existence of OP 864.1. Bayadi re-alleged that OP 864.1 is used to “harass Muslims, such as [himself]” and violates the RLUIPA, the United States and Virginia Constitutions, and Virginia law. Bayadi stated that he wants OP 864.1 “eliminated” so that he can grow his beard as a Muslim without having to go to segregation for six months to a year for violating OP 864.1. On October 8, 2015, B.J. Ravizee rejected Bayadi's regular grievance for “Insufficient Information, ” stating that he needed to provide the “I[nstitutional] C[lassification] A[uthority (“ICA”)] Form to appeal [his] housing assignment.”

         On October 11, 2015, Bayadi appealed the regular grievance, specifically alleging that OP 864.1 is “unconstitutional and a direct violation of” the RLUIPA because it places a “substantial burden” on Muslims, such as himself, because Islam forbids Muslims to cut their hair. Bayadi argued that although the policy cites hygiene, security, and identification of inmates as reasons for its existence, the “very fact” that the 864.1 Violators Pod exists “proves” that the policy is a “sham” that is being used to “religiously harass” Muslims. On October 23, 2016, the Regional Ombudsman upheld the intake decision. No further administrative review is available.

         In their motion for summary judgment, defendants argue that Bayadi failed to exhaust his administrative remedies prior to filing this action. Defendants state that although Bayadi filed a regular grievance pertaining to the subject matter of his § 1983 complaint, the regular grievance was rejected at the intake level on the basis that it contained insufficient information and Bayadi failed to resubmit the grievance with the required information as instructed in the response. Defendants argue that because Bayadi did not comply with the grievance coordinator's instructions to remedy the deficiency, he did not properly exhaust his administrative remedies within the meaning of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”).

         In response to the motion for summary judgment, Bayadi argues that he did exhaust his remedies in compliance with the PLRA. Bayadi states that the ICA hearing form that he was instructed to provide “has nothing to do with this case.” Bayadi points out that he is clearly challenging the VDOC policy and not his housing assignment. Bayadi further states that he could not submit the ICA hearing form because it does not exist. Bayaydi alleges that he has not been out of compliance with the grooming policy since being at Wallens Ridge, he has never been charged with violating the policy, and he has not had an ICA hearing; therefore, he does not have an ICA hearing form to submit.

         II.

         A party is entitled to summary judgment if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those necessary to establish the elements of a party's cause of action. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine issue of material fact exists if, in viewing the record and all reasonable inferences drawn therefrom in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, a reasonable fact-finder could return a verdict for the non-movant. Id. The moving party has the burden of showing - “that is, pointing out to the district court - that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). If the movant satisfies this burden, then the non-movant must set forth specific, admissible facts that demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of fact for trial. Id. at 322-23. A party is entitled to summary judgment if the record as a whole could not lead a rational trier of fact to find in favor of the non-movant. Williams v. Griffin, 952 F.2d 820, 823 (4th Cir. 1991); see Ennis v. Nat'l Ass'n of Bus. & Educ. Radio, Inc., 53 F.3d 55, 62 (4th Cir. 1995) (“Mere unsupported speculation . . . is not enough to defeat a summary judgment motion.”). However, summary judgment is not appropriate where the ultimate factual conclusions to be drawn are in dispute. Overstreet v. Ky. Cent. Life Ins. Co., 950 F.2d 931, 937 (4th Cir. 1991). A court may not resolve disputed facts, weigh the evidence, or make determinations of credibility. Russell v. Microdyne Corp., 65 F.3d 1229, 1239 (4th Cir. 1995); Sosebee v. Murphy, 797 F.2d 179, 182 (4th Cir. 1986). Instead, a court accepts as true the evidence of the non-moving party and resolves all internal conflicts and inferences in the non-moving party's favor. Charbonnages de France v. Smith, 597 F.2d 406, 414 (4th Cir. 1979).

         III.

         VDOC OP § 866.1, Offender Grievance Procedure, is the mechanism used to resolve inmate complaints and requires that, before submitting a formal grievance, the inmate must demonstrate that he has made a good faith effort to resolve the grievance informally through the procedures available at the institution to secure institutional services or resolve complaints.

         If the informal resolution effort fails, the inmate must initiate a regular grievance by filling out the standard “Regular Grievance” form. Prior to review of the substance of a grievance, prison officials conduct an “intake” review of the grievance to assure that it meets the published criteria for acceptance. A grievance meeting the criteria for acceptance is logged in on the day it is received.[1] If the grievance does not meet the criteria for acceptance, prison officials complete the “Intake” section of the grievance and ...


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