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Bayadi v. Clarke

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

February 17, 2017

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 Wallens Ridge State Prison (“Wallens Ridge”) Warden Fleming[1]and Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”) Director Clarke retaliated against him and, later, Wallens Ridge Institutional Ombudsman Ravizee rejected a grievance in an effort to “cover up” the retaliation. Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and Bayadi responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. After reviewing the record, I conclude that defendants' motion for summary judgment must be granted.

         I.

         Bayadi alleges that on August 31, 2015, he was transferred from Keen Mountain Correctional Center (“Keen Mountain”), a security level 4 facility, to Wallens Ridge, a security level 5 facility, “for no valid reason.” Upon his arrival at Wallens Ridge, Bayadi was placed in segregation. On September 8, 2015, Bayadi, who is Muslim, was moved to general population and placed in a cell with an inmate “who is a known member of” the Aryan Brotherhood and who “hates Muslims.”[2] Bayadi alleges that the other inmate told Bayadi that he and Warden Fleming “go way back” and that Fleming “wants” him to “beat [Bayadi] up really bad.” Bayadi also alleges that the other inmate told Bayadi that if Bayadi “bothered him at all, he would bash [Bayadi's] head in with his TV, because he can afford to buy a new one . . . .” Bayadi does not allege that the other inmate ever actually hurt him. Bayadi was moved to segregation on September 30, 2015 after he stated that he feared for his life in the pod to which he was assigned.

         Bayadi alleges that his transfer to Wallens Ridge and his cell assignment were retaliation for him having previously filed two civil rights actions against defendants Fleming and Clarke. Bayadi states that defendant Ravizee dismissed a grievance concerning his transfer to Wallens Ridge in an effort to “cover up” Clarke and Fleming's retaliatory transfer.

         In their motion for summary judgment, defendants argue that Bayadi failed to exhaust administrative remedies and that the claims nevertheless are meritless. It is undisputed that Bayadi filed an informal complaint at Wallens Ridge concerning his transfer. It is also undisputed that Bayadi filed a regular grievance at Wallens Ridge concerning his transfer, which defendant Ravizee rejected at intake, indicating that the grievance should have been filed at Keen Mountain. Bayadi appealed the intake decision to no avail. Bayadi did not file any grievances at Keen Mountain concerning his transfer and that Bayadi did not file any grievances at Wallens Ridge concerning his cell assignment.

         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). In adjudicating a motion for summary judgment, 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 Operating Procedure (“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.[3] If the grievance does not meet the criteria for acceptance, prison officials complete the “Intake” section of the grievance and return the grievance to the inmate. If the inmate desires a review of the intake decision, he must send the grievance form to the Regional Ombudsman. Pursuant to the OP, if an offender has been transferred, the inmate should submit the informal complaint and subsequent grievance to the facility where the issue originated. When an indigent inmate has been transferred, the Institutional Ombudsman/Grievance Coordinator will forward the informal complaint and subsequent grievance to the facility where the issue originated.

         IV.

         The Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”) provides that “[n]o action shall be brought with respect to prison conditions under section 1983 of this title, or any other Federal law, by a prisoner confined in any jail, prison, or other correctional facility until such administrative remedies as are available are exhausted.” 42 U.S.C. 1997e(a). “[E]xhaustion is mandatory under the PLRA and . . . unexhausted claims cannot be brought in court.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199, 211 (2007) (citing Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 524 (2002)). “‘[T]he language of section 1997e(a) clearly contemplates exhaustion prior to the commencement of the action as an indispensible requirement, thus requiring an outright dismissal [of unexhausted claims] rather than issuing continuances so that exhaustion may occur.'” Carpenter v. Hercules, No. 3:10cv241, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72096, at *12, 2012 WL 1895996, at *4 (E.D. Va. May 23, 2012) (emphasis in original) (quoting Johnson v. Jones, 340 F.3d 624, 628 (8th Cir. 2003)). The exhaustion requirement “allow[s] a prison to address complaints about the program it administers before being subjected to suit, reduc[es] litigation to the extent complaints are satisfactorily resolved, and improv[es] litigation that does occur by leading to the preparation of a useful record.” Jones, 549 U.S. at 219. Failure to exhaust all levels of administrative review is not proper exhaustion and will bar an inmate's § 1983 action. Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 90 (2006).

         Ordinarily, an inmate must follow the required procedural steps in order to exhaust his administrative remedies. Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725, 729 (4th Cir. 2008); see Langford v. Couch, 50 F.Supp.2d 544, 548 (E.D. Va. 1999) (“[T]he PLRA amendment made clear that exhaustion is now mandatory.”). But, I am “obligated to ensure that any defects in administrative exhaustion were not procured from the action or inaction of prison officials.” Aquilar-Avellaveda v. Terrell, 478 F.3d 1223, 1225 (10th Cir. 2007); see Kaba v. Stepp, 458 F.3d 678, 684 (7th Cir. 2006). An inmate need only exhaust “available” remedies. 42 U.S.C. § ...


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