United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
GLEN E. CONRAD SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Derrick Edwards, a Virginia inmate proceeding pro se, filed
this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983,
alleging that defendant P. Scarberry violated his First
Amendment rights by retaliating against him for filing
grievances. Scarberry has filed a motion for summary judgment
arguing that Edwards failed to exhaust available
administrative remedies before filing this action, in
violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a). Edwards has
responded, making this matter ripe for disposition. After
review of the record, the court concludes that the
defendant's motion for summary judgment must be granted.
uncontroverted record indicates that Edwards, at all times
pertinent, was housed at Red Onion State Prison ("Red
Onion") and Scarberry was the Director of Food Service
at Red Onion. Edwards worked in the kitchen at Red Onion,
under the supervision of Scarberry. Edwards was fired from
his kitchen job on November 22, 2017.
November 18, 2017, Edwards filed an informal complaint
alleging that "kitchen supervisors" were falsifying
documents related to his job description and
V.S. 3, ECF No. 3. On November 22, 2017, Scarberry wrote her
response, stating her intent to fire Edwards. Edwards alleges
that Scarberry "showed [him] the informal complaint...
[and] told [him he] was fired." Compl.4, ECF No. 1.
December 5, 2017, Edwards submitted an informal complaint
regarding being fired from his kitchen job. In the informal
complaint, Edwards alleged that he "was retaliated
against by P. Scarberry in the form of a job termination for
writing an informal complaint on 11-18-17." Mem. Supp.
Summ. J., Encl. E, ECF No. 17-1. Scarberry responded to the
informal complaint on December 23, 2017. Edwards explains
that he waited until December 5, 2017 to file his informal
complaint "because no mail was running due to the
Thanksgiving holiday and [at] Red Onion State Prison [an
inmate has] to ask a [sergeant] or above for complaint forms
who rarely give them out." Edwards Decl. 2, ECF No.
alleges that he filed regular grievances on December 27,
2017, January 4, 2018, and January 16, 2018. According to
Edwards, he did not receive a receipt or response for the
December 27, 2017, and January 4, 2018, grievances. Edwards
sent the January 16, 2018, regular grievance to the Regional
Office, not the Red Onion grievance office. The Regional
Office received the grievance on January 19, 2018, and
returned it to Red Onion, noting: "return to inmate to
file @ [Red Onion] for intake review." Mem. Supp. Summ.
J. 5, ECF No. 17. The Red Onion grievance office received the
regular grievance on February 12, 2018 and denied intake
because the thirty-day filing period had expired. Edwards
appealed the intake decision and the Regional Ombudsman
upheld the decision, noting that the incident occurred on
November 22, 2017.
filed additional regular grievances on February 2, 2018,
February 4, 2018, and February 9, 2018,  sending them to
the Regional Office instead of the Red Onion grievance
office. These regular grievances were all summarily rejected
for being time-barred or repetitive, or for Edwards'
failure to use the informal grievance process.
then filed the present action. Edwards' sole claim is
that Scarberry fired him in retaliation for his informal
complaint about her employees, in violation of his First
Standards of Review
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). The dispute over a material fact must be genuine,
"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). As such, the moving party is entitled to summary
judgment if the evidence supporting a genuine issue of
material fact "is merely colorable or is not
significantly probative." Anderson, 477 U.S. at
moving party bears the burden of proving that judgment on the
pleadings is appropriate. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). If the moving party meets this
burden, then the nonmoving party must set forth specific,
admissible facts to demonstrate a genuine issue of fact for
trial. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986). In considering a motion
for summary judgment, the court must view the record as a
whole and draw all reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Celotex, 477 U.S.
at 322-24; Shaw v. Stroud. 13 F.3d 791, 798 (4th
Cir. 1994). However, the nonmoving party may not rely on
beliefs, conjecture, speculation, or conclusory allegations
to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Baber v. Hosp.
Corp. of Am.,977 F.2d 872, 874-75 (4th Cir. 1992).
Instead, the nonmoving party must ...