United States District Court, D. New Jersey
B. KUGLER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Plaintiff, Noe Leinheiser, is a convicted federal prisoner
incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institution in Fort
Dix, New Jersey. The plaintiff is proceeding pro se
with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to Bivens v.
Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics,
403 U.S. 388 (1971). Plaintiff's application to proceed
in forma pauperis was previously granted.
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 can be granted, or
because it seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from suit. For the reasons set forth below, this Court
concludes that the complaint will proceed in part.
allegations of the complaint will be construed as true for
purposes of this screening opinion. The complaint names ten
defendants: (1) T. Hoey, NREMT-P; (2) D. Alatory, NREMT-P;
(3) R. Newbury, RN; (4) Jose Ravago, MLP; (5) Ms. D, RN; (6)
Grant (FNU), Correctional Officer; (7) Dr. Ravi Sood, M.D.;
(8) Dr. Ahmar Shakir (FNU); (9) Newland (FNU), RM/CD; and
(10) Federal Bureau of Prisons, Fort Dix.
October 20, 2014, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the
Federal Correctional Institution in Fort Dix, New Jersey
(“FCI Fort Dix”), he received ACL reconstruction
surgery on his left knee. The surgery was performed by Ahmar
Shakir (“Defendant Shakir”), a doctor of
orthopedics at St. Francis Hospital. At approximately 4:00
p.m. that same day, Plaintiff returned to FCI Fort Dix and
was transported by T. Hoey (“Defendant Hoey”), an
EMT, back to his housing unit. Defendant Hoey allegedly
pulled up to Plaintiff's housing unit and released
Plaintiff from the hospital transportation cart without
assistance. (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 1). Due to the anesthetic
Plaintiff had been given for pain at the hospital, he was
unable to feel his left leg. As Plaintiff walked into his
room, his left knee collapsed causing him to fall.
following day, on October 21, 2014 at approximately 4:00
a.m., Plaintiff went to use the restroom but was still unable
to feel his leg. This lack of feeling caused Plaintiff to
fall onto his left side, which opened a stitch in his left
knee. However, Plaintiff did not notice this injury until
later. At approximately 1:30 p.m. that day, Plaintiff walked
unassisted to the medical unit, and requested a device that
would aid him in walking. After “begging” for a
cane, Plaintiff was provided with one. At that time,
Plaintiff also informed Defendant Hoey that he was not
currently in any pain because the anesthetic had not worn
off. The pain and anti-inflammatory medications prescribed
for Plaintiff, however, were still ordered.
subsequently stopped by the medical unit at various times to
see if his prescriptions had been filled, but to no avail.
According to Plaintiff, “[he] did not take the pain
medication ordered for [him] because of the anesthetic that
was injected into [his] left hip lasted longer than the 7-8
hours that the hospital suggested. [He] was not able to fully
feel [his] leg for four days and the pain medication ordered
was for 5 days.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 2).
October 22, 2014, Plaintiff went to the medical unit to have
his leg dressing changed since his suture was partially torn
and draining. One week later, on October 29, 2014 at 11:30
a.m., Plaintiff attempted to stand up and heard a soft
“pop” in his left knee joint. Although his knee
did not bother him at that time, approximately one hour later
he felt his knee begin to tighten and swell. Plaintiff felt a
burning sensation in his knee and when he attempted to stand,
he discovered that he was unable to walk easily. Plaintiff
then limped, with the assistance of his cane, to the medical
unit to report this problem. Plaintiff was again seen by
Defendant Hoey, who ordered that Plaintiff receive x-rays.
Defendant Hoey informed Plaintiff that with exercise the
problem should subside. Plaintiff sat in the medical waiting
area from approximately 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. as the pain in
his left knee became increasingly unbearable. Plaintiff
stated in his Complaint that, through his pants, he was able
to see his entire leg swelling. Plaintiff asked Defendant
Hoey if he could see a doctor but Defendant Hoey denied
Plaintiff's request. Plaintiff also asked D. Alatory
(“Defendant Alatory”), another EMT in the medical
unit at that time, if he could see a doctor because Plaintiff
believed there was a problem with his leg. Defendant Alatory
responded, “Nope, can't help you.” (Dkt. No.
1-2, at pg. 2).
October 30, 2014, Plaintiff's unit officer, Mr. Sarfo,
came by Plaintiff's cell and inquired how Plaintiff felt.
Plaintiff informed Mr. Sarfo that he was in pain and unable
to move his left leg. Mr. Sarfo notified the medical unit and
Defendant Hoey transported Plaintiff from his housing unit to
the medical unit for observation. Defendant Hoey requested
that Jose Ravago (“Defendant Ravago”), a
physician's assistant in FCI Fort Dix's medical unit,
examine Plaintiff and determine whether Plaintiff needed
medical attention. Defendant Ravago allegedly advised
Plaintiff that he should, “walk like a 97 year old man
and not like a 17 year old.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 3).
Plaintiff asked Defendant Ravago about the large lump above
Plaintiff's knee and the intense pain he felt in his leg.
Defendant Ravago responded that the strongest pain reliever
he could provide was Motrin and that he was very busy with
other patients and unable to assist Plaintiff any further.
Plaintiff then asked Defendant Hoey if, “that was
it?” to which Defendant Hoey responded,
“yes.” Plaintiff did not receive the Motrin for
his pain until November 3, 2014, despite the fact that the
medication was ordered on October 20, 2014 and received by
the “pill line” on October 31, 2014. Plaintiff
states that, “for 14 days [he] went without proper
medication after [his] surgery.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg.
morning of November 6, 2014, Plaintiff went to “sick
call” to again request treatment for his leg. Plaintiff
was no longer able to walk, even with the assistance of a
cane. In order to attend sick call in the medical unit,
Plaintiff had to borrow a wheelchair from another inmate. At
sick call, Plaintiff was seen by R. Newbury (“Defendant
Newbury”), a nurse in the medical unit, who took
Plaintiff's vitals and asked what issues Plaintiff was
experiencing. Plaintiff provided Defendant Newbury with a
brief medical history of his knee and requested to be
“put on the call out” to see a doctor. Plaintiff
also requested a wheelchair to be able to move around.
Defendant Newbury informed Plaintiff that only a doctor could
approve Plaintiff's request for a wheelchair, but that
Defendant Newbury did not see a reason for Plaintiff to visit
with a doctor at that time. Defendant Newbury advised
Plaintiff that he should exercise his leg to reduce the
swelling. Defendant Newbury stated that the exercise would,
“hurt like hell, ” and suggested that Plaintiff
find a “friend” to help bend his legs and assist
him with movement.
returning to his housing unit that day, Plaintiff decided to
take a shower with the use of the wheelchair he had borrowed
from another inmate. While seated on a bench inside the
shower, Plaintiff was overcome with dizziness and anxiety
which caused him to fall off the bench. The fall injured
Plaintiff's knee and caused him to lose consciousness.
Another inmate, Curtis Motley, heard the fall and notified
the unit officer. Mr. Motley proceeded to help Plaintiff back
into the wheelchair and took Plaintiff to the medical unit.
Plaintiff was not seen by a doctor, but rather by Defendant
Newbury again. Defendant Newbury did not take Plaintiff's
vitals, but he did inspect Plaintiff's leg. Defendant
Newbury subsequently informed Plaintiff that he was fine and
could go back to his housing unit.
November 7, 2014, Plaintiff's leg began draining
“orange-looking fluid” and he had to apply
bandages for seven days. Plaintiff and his friends cleaned
the wound themselves and used torn towels as makeshift
bandages. Plaintiff stated that, “it got to the point
where [he] was using whole t-shirts and towels to cover [his]
leg because of the amount of fluid that was draining
out.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 4).
morning of November 10, 2014, Unit Officer Robels informed
Plaintiff that Plaintiff's boss from his job at UNICOR
was calling to inquire whether he was ready to return to
work. Plaintiff informed Officer Robels that he was still
unable to walk and that his leg was leaking fluid. Officer
Robels inspected Plaintiff's leg and advised him to go to
the medical unit to have it treated. Officer Robels informed
Plaintiff that, if left untreated, Plaintiff could lose his
leg. Plaintiff explained to Officer Robels his attempts to
receive treatment but stated that he had been denied each
time. Officer Robels decided to notify the medical unit
himself of Plaintiff's medical problem. Officer Robels
apparently spoke with a nurse, Ms. D (“Defendant Ms.
D”) who informed Officer Robels that there was nothing
more that could be done for Plaintiff's leg if Plaintiff
refused to exercise it. Officer Robels relayed the
conversation to Plaintiff and stated that he would notify the
Operations Lieutenant on duty who would, “force medical
to see [Plaintiff].” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 4). No. one
came back to check on Plaintiff.
was bed ridden from October 29, 2014 through November 14,
2014. During that time, other inmates brought Plaintiff food
and assisted him in changing and using the restroom.
Plaintiff showered only three times during those two weeks
because he was unable to stand or move his leg due to severe
pain. Plaintiff stated in his Complaint that when he
attempted to walk, he felt that he was going to pass out.
Plaintiff later learned that this was due, in part, from
having diabetes. Plaintiff had previously been unaware that
he was afflicted with this disease. Between October 29, 2014
and November 14, 2014, Plaintiff attempted four times to see
a doctor but was denied. Finally, on November 14, 2014,
Plaintiff again went to the medical unit. When Defendant
Newbury pulled the socks off of Plaintiff's feet, the
left sock was soaked with fluid and blood. Defendant Newbury
asked Plaintiff whether he wanted to keep the socks. When
Plaintiff stated that he did not, Defendant Newbury threw the
socks away, utilizing the regular trash bin rather than the
infectious waste bin. Plaintiff was then seen by R. Newland
(“Defendant Newland”), a doctor in the medical
unit, who ordered that Plaintiff remain “in the
institution” and be treated for fourteen days with
Keflex. Plaintiff stated in his Complaint, “I believe
that if that order was followed, I would not be alive to make
these statements.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 5).
alleged that as of January 2, 2015, he had very limited use
of his leg. He was unable to straighten his leg or bend it to
a ninety-degree angle. Plaintiff was also unable to put
weight on his leg or stand straight. Plaintiff could only
lift his foot off the floor while in a seated position.
Plaintiff was still in constant pain, his leg continued to
worsen, and he was unable to move around without the use of
crutches or a wheelchair.
January 12, 2015, Plaintiff heard a rumor that UNICOR would
be relocating all of its inmates into one housing unit, unit
5803. Since Plaintiff was unable to move and reliant on a
wheelchair, he felt that he had no choice but to quit his job
at UNICOR. When Plaintiff notified a Mr. Silver that he would
be quitting, Mr. Silver responded, “I'm moving you
anyway, you're not going to tell me where you're
going to live.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 6). Three days
later, on January 15, 2015, Plaintiff was forced to move
without assistance into unit 5803. Plaintiff used his
wheelchair to move his belongings. On January 22, 2015, all
inmates that had quit UNICOR were permitted to move back into
their previous housing unit. Plaintiff, however, was forced
to remain in unit 5803. Plaintiff alleges that this was
retaliation for quitting UNICOR and for the
“write-ups” he was submitting about the FCI Fort
Dix medical staff.
February 10, 2015, Plaintiff went to the medical unit to be
seen by the orthopedic surgeon, Defendant Shakir. Plaintiff
informed Defendant Shakir that he still had limited use of
his leg, and that “something from the inside of [his]
leg was moving out underneath the skin” and becoming
sensitive. (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 7). Defendant Shakir
expressed confusion as to why Plaintiff was still unable to
walk and wondered why Plaintiff still needed the assistance
of crutches. When Defendant Shakir examined Plaintiff's
knee, he informed Plaintiff that what was moving underneath
the skin was the screw that had been placed into
Plaintiff's knee during his ACL reconstruction surgery.
Defendant Shakir ordered an MRI for Plaintiff as soon as
February 25, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Defendant Ravago who
stated that, “[Plaintiff] was pretty much
screwed.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 7). Defendant Ravago
apparently could not believe the condition of Plaintiff's
knee and stated that it was caused by the “incompetence
of the medical staff at Ft. Dix.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg.
7). Defendant Ravago extended Plaintiff's wheelchair and
crutch privileges and told Plaintiff that he would recommend
a total knee replacement.
March 2, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by Ravi Sood
(“Defendant Sood”), a doctor at FCI Fort Dix.
Defendant Sood informed Plaintiff that his knee would not
improve without surgery. Defendant Sood stated that,
“he would be meeting with the medical community on
Wednesday and he would push for [Plaintiff].” (Dkt. No.
1-2, at pg. 7).
March 26, 2015, Plaintiff was transported to RWJ Hamilton
Hospital for an MRI. (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 7). On April 6,
2015, Plaintiff again saw Defendant Shakir who informed
Plaintiff that he would indeed need a total knee replacement
because there was too much damage that had been caused by the
infection in Plaintiff's knee. Defendant Shakir
recommended that Plaintiff begin using a knee brace.
Defendant Shakir also stated that in six months, Plaintiff
would be able to receive a cortisone shot for his knee, and
in one to two years, Plaintiff would need to have a bone
analysis taken to ensure that there was no longer an
infection in the bone. Only after that time would Defendant
Shakir recommend Plaintiff receive a total knee replacement.
2, 2015, Plaintiff saw Defendant Sood to go over his MRI
results. Defendant Sood issued Plaintiff a four-wheel walker
and a knee brace, but told Plaintiff to visit a Mr. Lebron to
receive this equipment. Upon speaking with Mr. Lebron,
Plaintiff was told that he would have to buy his own knee
brace at the commissary, even though the commissary did not
have the type of knee brace that had been issued by Defendant
months later, on December 29, 2015, Plaintiff was seen by
Defendant Ravago. Plaintiff informed Defendant Ravago that
Plaintiff's knee was buckling from time to time, and that
he was having constant pain in his knee because it would
“pop” when he walked. Defendant Ravago told
Plaintiff that he would “make some calls” for
Plaintiff to get the knee brace that had been recommended by
Defendant Sood. (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 9).
January 21, 2016, Plaintiff had an appointment at the medical
unit with Physician's Assistant, Ms. Mello. At this
appointment, Ms. Mello refused to listen to issues afflicting
Plaintiff's knee, and “all she wanted to hear was
that [Plaintiff] needed a knee brace.” (Dkt. No. 1-2,
at pg. 9). Ms. Mello told Plaintiff to return the following
day to receive a brace. Plaintiff attempted to explain to Ms.
Mello that the medical unit did not have the type of knee
brace Defendant Sood had issued, but Ms. Mello replied,
“that is all [Plaintiff was] getting.” (Dkt. No.
1-2, at pg. 9). Plaintiff then requested to see Defendant
Sood, but Ms. Mello stated that Plaintiff would have to wait
until his next chronic care visit. When Plaintiff asked when
that was, Ms. Mello responded, “goodbye, you're
done.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 9).
following day, January 22, 2016, Plaintiff returned to the
medical care unit to receive a knee brace, as instructed by
Ms. Mello. Defendant Newbury and Mr. Lebron were both present
and issuing supplies to the prisoners when Plaintiff arrived.
When Plaintiff requested a knee brace, Defendant Newbury
exchanged looks with Mr. Lebron and subsequently informed
Plaintiff that the knee braces were out of stock. Defendant
Newbury advised Plaintiff that the knee braces had been out
of stock for three weeks, and that Defendant Newbury
“was not going to bother looking” for one. (Dkt.
No. 1-2, at pg. 9). When Plaintiff inquired when the next
shipment would arrive, Defendant Newbury stated “not
for a long time.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 9).
28, 2016, Plaintiff was again seen by Defendant Sood.
Defendant Sood prescribed two medications, one for a Vitamin
D deficiency and one for pain management. When Plaintiff
received the medications on July 1, 2016, and began taking
them, he experienced side effects that made him feel ill. The
side effects continued until Plaintiff stopped taking the
medications on July 4, 2016.
5, 2016, Plaintiff went to the medical unit to report the
side effects he was experiencing. Plaintiff saw Defendant
Sood and informed him of the adverse reaction. Defendant Sood
simply told Plaintiff to stop taking the medications, then
turned and walked away. Defendant Sood did not ask Plaintiff
what side effects he was experiencing, nor did he “ask
any medical questions that a doctor would or should be
normally asking.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg. 10). After
seeing Defendant Sood, Plaintiff saw the Health Administrator
and complained about the fact that he had never received the
knee brace issued by Defendant Sood and that he had never
received a “bone scan.” (Dkt. No. 1-2, at pg.
10). The Health ...