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Cagnina v. Lanigani

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 28, 2017

ANTHONY CAGNINA, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY LANIGANI, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff, Anthony Cagnina, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”) in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is proceeding pro se with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. At this time, this Court must screen the complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) and 1915A to determine whether it should be dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from suit. For the following reasons, the complaint will be permitted to proceed in part.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for purposes of this screening opinion. Mr. Cagnina names the following as defendants: (1) Gary Lanigani - Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (“NJDOC”); (2) University Correctional Health Care Rutgers (“UCHC”); (3) Dr. Ralph Woodward - Supervisor & Medical Provider to NJDOC and UCHC: (4) Dr. Arthur Brewer - Supervisor and Medical Provider to NJDOC and UCHC; (5) Dr. William Briglia - Medical Provider for NJDOC and UCHC; (6) Dr. Diaz - Medical Provider for NJDOC and UCHC; (7) Dr. Sherita Latimore-Collier - Medical Provider for UCHC and NJDOC; (8) Monica Tsakiris - Nurse Practitioner; (9) Melissa Curtis - Nurse Practitioner; (10) Jen Farestad - Nurse Practitioner; (11) Angie Luciano - Physical Therapist; (12) John & Jane Does.

         Mr. Cagnina's complaint arises from the medical treatment, or lack thereof, he has received while incarcerated at SWSP principally for his left shoulder and back pain. Before his commitment to SWSP on February 25, 2015, Mr. Cagnina had pain in his left shoulder and back. He had MRIs performed in 2010 and again in 2012. He was prescribed various pain medications as a result of his pain.

         On February 27, 2015, Mr. Cagnina met with Tsakiris and advised her of his MRI findings and pain medications he takes. However, Tsakiris refused to refer Mr. Cagnina to a physician or provide him pain medication.

         From March 1, 2015 until May 1, 2015, Mr. Cagnina went to the medical department at SWSP several times complaining of pain. One of these consults was with Tsakiris. His efforts were to no avail.

         On May 12, 2015, Mr. Cagnina was admitted to St. Francis Medical Center to have a stent placed in his heart. He was transferred back to SWSP on May 14, 2015. He remained at SWSP's extended care unit until December 20, 2015. He complained every day to medical personnel there about the pain in his left shoulder and back that made it hard for him to walk.

         Eventually, Curtis requested that Mr. Cagnina receive an evaluation from physical therapist Luciano. Mr. Cagnina consulted with Luciano in June, 2015. Luciano ordered physical therapy. Mr. Cagnina performed physical therapy with Luciano for six weeks. After each session, Mr. Cagnina advised Luciano of the worsening of his pain caused by the physical therapy exercises. Nevertheless, Luciano continued Mr. Cagnina's physical therapy sessions.

         On December 20, 2015, Mr. Cagnina was cleared to leave the extended care unit by Dr. Briglia to return to general population. Mr. Cagnina explained to Curtis that there was a very long walk back to general population and that there was no way he could do it without assistance. Nevertheless, Mr. Cagnina left the extended care unit that day. About halfway back to general population, Mr. Cagnina collapsed due to the pain his spine and legs. Mr. Cagnina was then provided a wheelchair which he has had since December 20, 2015. He is unable to walk or stand for more than seven minutes.

         On December 21, 2015, Mr. Cagnina was called to medical and had a consult with Tsakiris. He explained to her the previous MRI findings and the pain he was suffering in his left shoulder, spine, back and legs, along with the problems he was having standing and walking. Tsakiris requested an X-ray on Mr. Cagnina's back that was eventually conducted.

         In February, 2016, Mr. Cagnina had another medical consult with Tsakiris where he again complained about the pains in his left shoulder, spine, back and legs as well as his problems standing and walking. Tsakiris told him that his X-rays came back normal. Mr. Cagnina requested an MRI, but Tsakiris prescribed him a muscle relaxer, instead.

         On March 25, 2016, Mr. Cagnina had another consult with Tsakiris complaining of his pain in his left shoulder, spine, back and legs as well as his problems standing and walking. Tsakiris requested that Mr. Cagnina be given an internal specialty consult with Luciano.

         Mr. Cagnina met with Luciano who ordered him to perform six weeks of physical therapy. After three weeks, Mr. Cagnina told Luciano that he would have more pain in his spine, back and legs from the physical therapy than before he had started it. Eventually, Luciano became frustrated with Mr. Cagnina and ordered him to do his physical therapy alone in his cell.

         On May 4, 2016, Mr. Cagnina wrote a letter to Dr. Woodward that explained his pains, injuries and occurrences at SWSP. Mr. Cagnina states that he did not receive a response to his letter.

         Also in May, 2016, Mr. Cagnina had another consult with Tsakiris where he complained about the physical therapy with Luciano as well as the pain he was suffering to no avail. Four days later, Tsakiris advised Mr. Cagnina that Luciano stated that an MRI was not needed for him.

         On June 12, 2016, Mr. Cagnina wrote to Dr. Woodward again and sent him his MRI findings ...


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