United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
ERIC L. PROSHA, Plaintiff,
DAVID ROBINSON, et ah, Defendants.
Roderick C. Young, United States Magistrate Judge
Prosha, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se and
in forma pauperis, filed this civil action under 42
U.S.C. § 1983. The action proceeds on Prosha's
Particularized Complaint ("Complaint," ECF No.
The Court previously dismissed a number of Prosha's
the following claims against Defendant Robinson remain before
Claim One: Defendant Robinson violated Prosha's First
Amendment right of Free Exercisef when Prosha was provided
religiously inadequate meals during Passover 2015. (Compl.
Claim Two: Defendant Robinson violated Prosha's Eighth
Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment
when Prosha was provided religiously inadequate meals during
Passover 2015. (Id.)
Claim Four: Defendant Robinson placed a substantial burden on
Prosha's exercise of his religion in violation of
RLUIPA when Prosha was served religiously
inadequate meals during Passover 2015. (Id.)
Prosha v. Robinson, No. 3:16CV163, 2018 WL 564855,
at *7 (E.D. Va. Jan. 25, 2018). The Court also dismissed
Prosha's demand for monetary damages in conjunction with
Claim Four. Id.
Robinson has moved for summary judgment and provided Prosha
with Roseboro Notice. (ECF Nos. 57, 59.) Prosha has
responded. (ECF No. 64.) For the reasons that follow, the
Motion for Summary Judgment will be GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART. The Court WILL GRANT the Motion for Summary
Judgment with respect to Claims One and Two and WILL DENY the
Motion for Summary Judgment with respect to Claim Four.
Standard for Summary Judgment
judgment must be rendered "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."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The party seeking summary judgment bears
the responsibility of informing the Court of the basis for
the motion and identifying the parts of the record which
demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323
(1986). "[W]here the nonmoving party will bear the
burden of proof at trial on a dispositive issue, a summary
judgment motion may properly be made in reliance solely on
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file." Id. at 324 (internal
quotation marks omitted). When the motion is properly
supported, the nonmoving party must go beyond the pleadings
and, by citing affidavits or "'depositions, answers
to interrogatories, and admissions on file,' designate
'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for
trial."' Id. (quoting former Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c), (e) (1986)). In reviewing a summary judgment motion,
the Court "must draw all justifiable inferences in favor
of the nonmoving party." United States v. Carolina
Transformer Co., 978 F.2d 832, 835 (4th Cir. 1992)
(citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S.
242, 255 (1986)). However, a mere "scintilla of
evidence" will not preclude summary judgment.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 251 (quoting Improvement
Co. v. Munson, 81 U.S. (14 Wall.) 442, 448 (1872)).
"[T]here is a preliminary question for the judge, not
whether there is literally no evidence, but whether there is
any upon which a jury could properly proceed to find a
verdict for the party . . . upon whom the onus of proof is
imposed." Id. (quoting Munson, 81 U.S.
support of his Motion for Summary Judgment, Defendant
Robinson has submitted: the affidavit of A. Anderson, the
Senior Director of Food Service Operations at GCC (ECF No.
58-1, at 1-3); the affidavit of S. Davis-Bryan, the manager
of the VDOC correspondence unit (ECF No. 58-2); his own
affidavit (ECF No. 58-3); the affidavit of Tameca Woodley,
the Chief of Housing and Programs at GCC (ECF No. 58-4); and
a variety of institutional records (see, e.g., ECF
No. 58-1, at 4-11). Prosha's Complaint is sworn to under
penalty of perjury. (Compl. 8.) Additionally, the record
contains a number of grievances and complaints submitted by
other inmates who initially sought to bring the action
jointly with Prosha.
light of the foregoing submissions and principles, the
following facts are established for purposes of the Motion
for Summary Judgment.
Summary of Undisputed Facts
According to Prosha, he
is now, and at all times relevant to the events described
herein, an adherent of the House of Yahweh. The House of
Yahweh is a religious organization whose adherents believe it
[is] necessary to abide by the Torah. Adherents must... keep
annual festivals of the Old Testament, including the
assembling of members, once a year on the evening before
Passover, to hold a solemn observance of Yashua's
(Compl. ¶ 12.) During April of 2015, Prosha was housed
in GCC. (See Id. ¶¶ 4, 13.) "[T]he
House of Yahweh group had previously arranged with Chaplain
Wiggins to receive the proper meals for the Passover of the
Unleavened Bread," which was to begin at lunch on April
3, 2015 and continue through the evening meal on April 11,
2015. (Id. ¶ 13; ECF No. 58- ¶ 7.)
January 26, 2015, Defendant Robinson issued a memorandum to
the VDOC Wardens and Superintendents regarding the procedures
for the observance of the 2015 Passover. (ECF No. 58-4 ¶
7.) "The memorandum defined a Passover Meal as a meal
from the Common Fare menu which is free of leavened food
items, legumes, and grains." (Id. ¶ 8.)
The memorandum instructed that for Passover meals, matzah
would be substituted for bread for the duration of Passover.
(Id. ¶ 7.) The Passover Meals meet basic
nutritional needs. (Id. ¶ 8.)
Prosha was approved to attend services associated with the
observance of Passover, he was approved to receive a Passover
tray. (ECF 58-1 ¶ 4.) "In addition to the Passover
tray, a regular Common Fare tray is also served during
Passover. The regular Common Fare tray contains leavened
(food with yeast) food items such as bread,
French toast, and noodles, while the Passover tray does not
contain these items." (Id.) In order for Prosha
to receive a Passover tray, Prosha would come to the dining
hall as usual and get in the Common Fare line. Common Fare
offenders are served first. The feeding line is called a
"blind line." When the offender approaches the
window to receive his tray, he cannot be seen by food service
staff. In order to receive a Passover tray, Prosha would need
to present his offender identification and request a Passover
tray. With his request, staff would then check the master
pass list for his name and he would be given a Passover tray.
The offender would consume the matzah issued to him as a
bread substitute. If the offender does not specifically
request a Passover tray, he is provided a regular Common Fare
tray. Food Service staff worked with the Chaplain to ensure
that offenders are informed that in order to receive a
Passover tray, the offenders must request the tray at the
food service window.
(Id. ¶ 5.)
April 2, 2015, Prosha received his matzah bread distribution
for Passover from Chaplain Wall. (ECF No. 58-4, at 23.)
According to Prosha, on April 3, 2015, when he went to obtain
his meal, the tray contained egg noodles, which he could not
eat because they contained yeast. (Compl. ¶ 13.) Prosha
complained to the kitchen supervisor, who informed Prosha
that this was the only food they had to give him.
(Id.) Prosha contends that he was unable to eat the
meal because of the requirements of his religion.
every meal through April 11, 2015, [Prosha] was served items
that did not meet the requirements of the House of
Yahweh." (Id. ¶ 15.) In each instance,
Prosha informed the correctional officer on duty and
"was told that [this] was all they had to give
him." (Id.) According to Prosha,
[A]dherents of the House of Yahweh are not allowed to consume
commercial dairy products such as milk, butter, ice cream,
yogurt or cheese blends because they contain trace amounts of
blood from unhealthy cows. Yet, Plaintiff was served milk
each day and butter regularly at ...