United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
MICHAEL F. URBANSKI CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Rasheem McClenny, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro
se, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
against Correctional Officer Meadows, alleging that Officer
Meadows used excessive force against him. Officer Meadows
filed a motion for summary judgment and this matter is ripe
for disposition. After reviewing the record, the court will
deny Officer Meadows' motion for summary judgment.
January 4, 2018, while housed at River North Correctional
Center (“River North”), McClenny was involved in
a physical altercation with other inmates in his housing
unit. McClenny avers that as soon as officers arrived, he
“immediately” complied with their orders, was
restrained in handcuffs behind his back, and was escorted to
an isolation cell. McClenny states that during his escort to
the isolation cell, Officer Meadows employed a
“restraint technique” which involved bending
McClenny's fingers backwards. When Officer Meadows did
this, McClenny involuntarily cried out in pain. Instead of
relieving the pressure, Officer Meadows then applied
“even more force” when he “twisted”
McClenny's fingers and bent them even further back until
two of them broke.
was taken to the medical unit and then to the hospital, where
it was determined that he suffered a fracture and
“severe angulation.” McClenny had surgery on one
of his fingers and his entire hand was placed in a cast.
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). Summary judgment is inappropriate “if the
dispute about a material fact is ‘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. Wash. Sports
Ventures, Inc., 264 F.3d 459, 465 (4th Cir. 2001).
However, if 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 249-50 (internal citations omitted). 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 id. at 255; Shaw v. Stroud, 13
F.3d 791, 798 (4th Cir. 1994).
Meadows argues that McClenny failed to exhaust available
administrative remedies before filing this action, as
required by 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). For the reasons stated
herein, the court finds that administrative remedies were not
available to McClenny and, therefore, will deny
defendant's motion for summary judgment.
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)). A
prisoner must exhaust all available administrative remedies,
whether or not they meet federal standards or are plain,
speedy, or effective, Porter, 534 U.S. at 524, and
even if exhaustion would be futile because those remedies
would not provide the relief the inmate seeks. Davis v.
Stanford, 382 F.Supp.2d 814, 818 (E.D. Va. 2005).
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, 88-89 (2006).
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 second PLRA amendment made clear that
exhaustion is now mandatory.”). But, the court is
“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).
Accordingly, an inmate need only exhaust
“available” remedies. 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).
An administrative remedy is not available “if a
prisoner, through no fault of his own, was prevented from
availing himself of it.” Moore v. Bennette,
517 F.3d at 725.
Department of Corrections (“VDOC”) Operating
Procedure (“OP”) § 866.1 is the mechanism
used to resolve inmate complaints and requires that, before
submitting a formal grievance, an inmate must demonstrate
that he has made a good faith effort to resolve a grievance
informally through the procedures available at the
institution, to secure institutional services or resolve
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
regular grievance, prison officials conduct an
“intake” review of the grievance to assure that
it meets the published criteria for acceptance. Among other
requirements, a regular grievance may only contain one issue
and generally must be submitted within thirty days from the
date of the occurrence or incident. A grievance meeting the
criteria for acceptance is logged in on the day it is
received. 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
incident at issue took place on January 4, 2018. On January
24, 2018, McClenny filed an informal complaint, stating that
Officer Meadows broke two of his fingers during the January
4, 2018 escort. On Janaury 26, 2018, an investigator
responded to the informal complaint, advising that a review
of the video did not show any such assault on McClenny. On
February 14, 2018, McClenny filed a regular grievance
concerning the incident. On February 15, 2018, the regular
grievance was rejected ...