Cole v. Greene et al
ORDER denying 37 LETTER MOTION for a Medical Exam by a doctor other than Dr. Robert Greene. Signed by Judge Stefan R. Underhill on 6/4/2013.(Carter, J.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
DR. ROBERT GREENE, et al.,
Case No. 3:11-cv-543 (SRU)
RULING ON PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR RELIEF
The plaintiff, Leona Cole ("Cole" or "the plaintiff"), currently incarcerated at FCI
Danbury, filed this action pro se asserting claims of improper prenatal care, wrongful death of
her infant son and medical negligence. Before the court is Cole's letter motion seeking a court
order preventing her from being seen or examined by Dr. Robert Greene, a former defendant in
this matter.1 For the reasons that follow, the motion (doc. # 37) is DENIED.
The Second Circuit has long held that a prisoner does not have the right to the treatment
of her choice, so long as the treatment provided is constitutionally adequate. See Chance v.
Armstrong, 143 F.3d 698, 703 (2d Cir. 1998) ("It is well-established that mere disagreement over
the proper treatment does not create a constitutional claim. So long as the treatment given is
adequate, the fact that a prisoner might prefer a different treatment does not give rise to an Eighth
Amendment violation."); Dean v. Coughlin, 804 F.2d 207, 215 (2d Cir. 1986) ("The Constitution
The plaintiff's complaint originally named the following defendants: Dr. Robert Greene,
the Federal Bureau of Prisons Danbury Health Services Administrator, and the Warden at FCI
Danbury. On August 1, 2011, the court entered an Initial Review Order (doc. # 11) construing
the complaint as brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b). The court
dismissed the claims against defendants Greene, Health Services Administrator and Warden, and
directed the Clerk to add the United States as the sole defendant. The Clerk shall amend the
does not command that inmates be given the kind of medical attention that judges would wish to
have for themselves.") (internal quotation omitted). Furthermore, prison officials have broad
discretion to determine the nature and character of medical treatment that is provided to prison
inmates. See Sonds v. St. Barnabas Hosp. Corr. Health Servs., 151 F. Supp. 2d 303, 311-12
(S.D.N.Y. 2001). Thus, "'[t]here is no right to the medical treatment of one's choice if the
prescribed treatment is based upon applicable medical standards.'" Reyes v. Turner, No. 93-cv8951 (JFK), 1996 WL 93728, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 5, 1996) (quoting McCloud v. Delaney, 677
F. Supp. 230, 232 (S.D.N.Y. 1988)).
Here, Cole's letter motion contains no allegations of deliberate indifference or any other
constitutional violations. Instead, Cole merely alleges that, after she filed this medical
malpractice action, Dr. Greene–the prison's OB/GYN–has been "crude and unapproachable" and
that "seeing him for anything is a conflict and a constant reminder of what he did to me or lack
there of." Letter Motion at 1 (doc. # 37). On that basis, Cole requests that the court enter an
order directing that she no longer be seen or examined by Dr. Greene–and, presumably, that she
be treated by a different doctor–during the pendency of this action.
Although Cole's discomfort with being treated by a doctor that is also the subject of her
on-going medical malpractice action is certainly understandable, she is not entitled to the
extraordinary relief she seeks. According to the defendant, Dr. Greene is the only OB/GYN at
the FCI Danbury facility. See Def.'s Response at 2 n.2 (doc. # 51). Thus, there is no other
medical professional available to provide the specific treatment that Cole requires. Moreover,
courts are generally reluctant to meddle with internal prison operations, unless some clear
constitutional violation demands it. See, e.g., Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 84-85 (1987) (noting
that courts should be hesitant to interfere with internal prison administration, which is a matter
within the realm of expertise of prison officials). Cole, however, has not so much as alleged, let
alone demonstrated, that the medical care she has received since this action was filed was
somehow inadequate or unreasonable in the constitutional sense. Thus, because a prisoner "is
not entitled to treatment by the doctor of [her] choice," Quezada v. Ercole, No. 09-cv-2832
(DLC), 2011 WL 3251811, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. July 29, 2011), I cannot grant Cole's request to be
seen by a doctor other than Dr. Greene.
In sum, the plaintiff's letter motion (doc. # 37) is DENIED.
SO ORDERED this 4th day of June 2013, at Bridgeport, Connecticut.
/s/ Stefan R. Underhill
Stefan R. Underhill
United States District Judge
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