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Bayadi v. Clarke

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

March 22, 2017

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


          Norman K. Moon United States District Judge

         Hasan Bayadi, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed a complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 naming numerous staff of the Virginia Department of Corrections (“VDOC”) and Wallens Ridge State Prison (“WRSP”) as defendants in both individual and official capacities. Bayadi argues that how correctional officers serve food violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1, et seq., the Virginia Constitution, and various public and private correctional standards. Bayadi seeks declaratory relief, damages, and a permanent injunction. The parties filed motions for summary judgment, and this matter is ripe for review.[1] Upon consideration of this action, I will grant in part and deny in part defendants' motion for summary judgment, deny in part and dismiss without prejudice in part Bayadi's motion for summary judgment, dismiss the Virginia Constitution claim without prejudice, and order briefing and mediation for the remaining First Amendment and RLUIPA claims.


         Bayadi, a Muslim, alleges in the verified complaint that defendant correctional officers Cooke, Rutherford, Caudill, Huff, Sumpter, Chick, and Lawson (the “officer defendants”) use the same gloved hands and use the same food delivery cart to transport both pork-free Common Fare trays and “pork-contaminated” regular trays. Common Fare is offered to inmates who have specialized and religious dietary needs, and it is designed to meet all halal and Kosher dietary restrictions, including being free of pork products.

         Defendants claim that Food Service staff store, prepare, serve, and clean the Common Fare food, trays, and kitchen in compliance with halal and Kosher requirements. Per policy, all Common Fare food is prepared in a designated Common Fare area; utensils for Common Fare foods are stored, handled, used, and cleaned separately from utensils for non-Common Fare foods; Common Fare foods are prepared and placed in serving trays designated for only Common Fare foods; and reusable serving trays, tray covers, utensils, and cups for Common Fare foods are washed and stored separately from similar non-Common Fare items.

         When inmates are locked in their cells for meals, the food trays are transported in carts. The hot Common Fare trays are placed on a different cart than hot regular trays. However, the cold Common Fare trays are placed on the same cart as cold regular trays. Defendants say that staff keeps the cold Common Fare and non-Common Fare trays separate on the cart based on the trays' different colors. Correctional officers collect the dirty Common Fare trays and regular meal trays, place the trays back onto the same cart from which they came, and take them to the kitchen where the trays are removed, cleaned, and sanitized. Defendants do not note whether the dirty trays are comingled or whether the cart is sanitized of pork residue before the next delivery of Common Fare meals.

         Bayadi explains that, as a Muslim, he has a sincerely-held religious belief that his food, utensils, and tray must not contact any surface that has contacted something “contaminated” by pork. Thus, Bayadi argues that his Common Fare meal cannot be transported in the same unsanitary cart that has held “pork-contaminated” regular trays. Bayadi further argues that the same officer who handles “pork-contaminated” regular trays cannot handle his Common Fare trays. Consequently, Bayadi argues that the officer defendants violate the First Amendment, RLUIPA, and the Virginia Constitution by serving him “pork-contaminated” Common Fare trays.

         Bayadi further argues that the remaining defendants violated those same rights in addition to violating various state and national policies. For example, administrative and supervisory defendants Clarke, Fleming, Anderson, Stallard, King, McCray, and Porchie are allegedly deliberately indifferent to the officer defendants' violations of federal laws, state laws, VDOC directives and policies, Board of Corrections regulations and policies, and American Correctional Association standards. Bayadi also faults these administrative and supervisory defendants for allowing the officer defendants to handle food trays despite not being designated as VDOC “Food Service Staff.” Bayadi further faults defendant Ravizee, who is the facility grievance coordinator, for rejecting a regular grievance as repetitive. Lastly, Bayadi generally asserts a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

         In addition to a declaration and damages, Bayadi seeks a permanent injunction to require food service supervisors and staff, and not correctional officers, to serve Common Fare trays. Bayadi also wants an injunction to stop WRSP grievances from being dismissing to cover up “illegal acts.”[2]


         The parties filed motions for summary judgment. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) provides that a court should grant summary judgment “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” “As to materiality . . . [o]nly disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). In order to preclude summary judgment, the dispute about a material fact must be “‘genuine, ' that is, if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id; see also JKC Holding Co. v. Washington Sports Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001). If, however, the evidence of a genuine issue of material fact “is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 250. In considering a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56, a court must view the record as a whole and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See, e.g., Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986); Shaw v. Stroud, 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994). A plaintiff may not amend a complaint through argument in a brief opposing summary judgment. Cloaninger v. McDevitt, 555 F.3d 324, 336 (4th Cir. 2009).

         Defendants argue that they are entitled to qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is “an immunity from suit rather than a mere defense to liability, ” and it is therefore “effectively lost if a case is erroneously permitted to go to trial.” Pearson v. Callahan, 555 U.S. 223, 231 (2009) (quoting Mitchell v. Forsyth, 472 U.S. 511, 526 (1985)). Indeed, the “driving force” behind the doctrine is the “desire to ensure that insubstantial claims against government officials [will] be resolved prior to discovery.”[3] Id. (alteration in original). Even when a plaintiff's constitutional rights have been violated, qualified immunity applies to bar the claim if, based on the facts presented, “a reasonable officer could have believed [his actions] to be lawful, in light of clearly established law and the information the . . . officers possessed.” Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 641 (1987); see In re Allen, 106 F.3d 582, 593 (4th Cir. 1997) (“[A]n official may claim qualified immunity as long as his actions are not clearly established to be beyond the boundaries of his discretionary authority.”). Clearly established law relevant to this case refers to decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the Supreme Court of Virginia. Edwards v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 251 (4th Cir. 1999).


         Defendants are entitled to summary judgment as to damages sought under RLUIPA and against them in their official capacities. RLUIPA does not authorize damages against a public official under the Spending Clause of the United States Constitution.[4] See Sossamon v. Texas, 563 U.S. 277, 282 n.1, 293 (2011) (prohibiting damages claims against state officials in their official capacity under the Spending Clause); Rendelman v. Rouse, 569 F.3d 182, 189 (4th Cir. 2009) (same for individual capacity). The Eleventh Amendment shields the Commonwealth of Virginia, vis-a-vis the defendants in their official capacities, from damages. See, e.g., FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994); Will v. Mich. Dep't of State Police, 491 U.S. 58, 71 (1989); Doe v. Chao, 306 F.3d 170, 184 (4th Cir. 2002). Accordingly, Bayadi cannot recover damages against defendants in their official capacities or under RLUIPA.


         Defendants are entitled to summary judgment on the equal protection claim. The Equal Protection Clause requires that persons similarly situated be treated alike. Plyer v. Doe,457 U.S. 202, 216 (1982). To state such a claim, a plaintiff must demonstrate that he has been treated differently from others who are similarly situated and that the unequal treatment was the result of intentional discrimination. Morrisson v. Garraghty,239 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 2001). If the plaintiff does not make this threshold showing, a court need not determine whether the alleged disparate treatment was justified under the appropriate level of scrutiny. Ephraim v. Angelone,313 F.Supp.2d 569, 573-74 (E.D. Va. 2003); see also Sylvia Dev. Corp. v. Calvert Cnty.,48 F.3d 810, 819 (4th Cir. 1995) (stating ...

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