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Cagnina v. Lanigani

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

March 7, 2019

GARY LANIGANI, et al., Defendants.


          ROBERT B. KUGLER United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff, Anthony Cagnina, is a state prisoner currently incarcerated at South Woods State Prison (“SWSP”) in Bridgeton, New Jersey. He is proceeding with a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Presently before the Court is Defendant, Dr. William Briglia's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 87). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will GRANT Dr. Briglia's motion, and dismiss without prejudice, the federal claims against him.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Since the parties are intimately familiar with the facts of this case, and because the Court reviewed the background of this action in its earlier Opinions (ECF Nos. 6 & 75), the Court will only articulate those facts necessary to address motion before the Court.

         This case arises from Plaintiffs medical treatment, or lack thereof, while incarcerated at SWSP, principally for his left shoulder and back pain. Plaintiff suffered from those afflictions prior to his commitment to SWSP on February 25, 2015. On February 27, 2015, Plaintiff advised staff of his diagnostic scans and current pain medications. According to Plaintiff, he complained to multiple staff members about his pain, but to no avail.

         On May 12, 2015, Plaintiff went to St. Francis Medical Center to have heart stent surgery. He then returned to SWSP on May 14, 2015, where he remained at SWSP's extended care unit until December 20, 2015. While there, Plaintiff complained often about the pain in his left shoulder and back that made it hard for him to walk.

         Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Briglia supervised the medical personnel at the extended care unit and then cleared Plaintiff to return back to general population on December 20, 2015. Thereafter, Plaintiff complained to a staff member about the long walk back to general population and that there was no way he could do it without assistance. Nevertheless, Plaintiff left the extended care unit that day and collapsed due to the pain in his back and legs while walking back to the general population unit. Plaintiff then received a wheelchair that day and has since been unable to walk or stand for more than seven minutes.

         Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint, pro se, against Dr. Briglia and a number of other Defendants. Upon screening the Complaint, the Court, among other things, dismissed Plaintiffs federal claims against Dr. Briglia without prejudice for failure to state a claim on March 28, 2017. The Court found that the only specific allegation against Dr. Briglia, that he cleared Plaintiff to return back to general population, standing alone, failed to state a claim for deliberate indifference.

         On January 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint that newly alleges the following, as to Dr. Briglia:

By letter dated April 8, 2016, Plaintiffs criminal attorney, Glenn Kassman, Esq. wrote to Dr. William Briglia stating, in part, the following: “Plaintiff ‘s client has asked me to contact you on his behalf because he has been suffering from debilitating back pain for nearly a year and has not received adequate medical treatment. specifically, Mr. Cagnina says that he was given x-rays that showed “bone-on-bone” between his L-4 and L-5 vertebrae. Nevertheless, despite excruciating pain, the recommendation from a nurse practitioner was physical therapy. I am obviously not a trained medical professional, but in my opinion, physical therapy would seem to be contraindicated at least until the problem has been properly diagnosed and could potentially cause even more damage. I respectfully request your assistance, so that Mr. Cagnina's suffering can be relieved or at least reduced.”

(ECF No. 62, at ¶ 59). The remainder of the Amended Complaint details Plaintiffs subsequent medical consultations, treatment, and history at SWSP and other locations, but pleads no further factual allegations against Dr. Briglia.

         Dr. Briglia now moves to dismiss the Amended Complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 87). Dr. Briglia argues that Plaintiff has failed to plead facts sufficient to state a claim against him under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff filed an opposition, and Dr. Briglia filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 89 & 90).


         In resolving a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, under Rule 12(b)(6), “‘courts accept all factual allegations as true, construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and determine whether, under any reasonable reading of the complaint, the plaintiff may be entitled to relief” Fowler v. UPMC Shadyside,578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Phillips v. Cnty. of Allegheny,515 F.3d 224, 233 (3d Cir. 2008)). In other words, a complaint survives a motion to dismiss if it contains sufficient factual matter, ...

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