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GREEN v. KUHLMAN

October 17, 1983

EDWARD GREEN, Plaintiff, against ROBERT KUHLMAN and MEDICAL STAFF OF WOODBOURNE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, Defendants.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CONNER

OPINION AND ORDER

CONNER, D.J.:

 Plaintiff Edward Green ("Green"), currently incarcerated at the Woodborune Correctional Facility, instituted this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants violated his constitutional rights by inadequately responding to his medical complaint is. The case is currently before the Court on Green's motion for a preliminary injunction ordering defendants to take him to an outside specialist at State expense "to ascertain whether [his] medical condition is psychosomatic or physically caused." For the reasons stated below, the motion is denied.

 The standard in this Circuit for granting preliminary injunctive relief is quite strict and requires the moving party to show

 (a) irreparable harm and (b) either (1) likelihood of success on the merits or (2) sufficiently serious questions going to the merits to make them a fair ground for litigation and a balance of hardships tipping decidedly toward the party requesting the preliminary relief.

 Sperry Int'l Trade, Inc. v. Government of Israel, 670 F.2d 8, 11 (2d Cir. 1982), quoting Jackson Dairy, Inc. v. H.P. Hood & Sons, Inc., 596 F.2d 70, 72 (2d Cir. 1979) (per curiam).

 Green's motion must be denied because he has not satisfied part (b) of the standard under either of the two alternative tests.

 It is well settled that the State has an obligation to provide medical care for its prisoners. See Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 103, 50 L. Ed. 2d 251, 97 S. Ct. 285 (1976). An inmate must rely entirely upon prison authorities to provide him any necessary medical care; if they fail to do so, the prisoner's medical needs will not be met. This absolute dependence of an inmate upon the favor of prison authorities led the Court in Gamble to rule that "deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of prisoners constitutes the 'unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain' proscribed by the Eighth Amendment." Id. at 104 (citation omitted). Thus, an allegation of deliberate indifference to a prisoner's medical problem, whether by prison doctors in their treatment of the prisoner or by other prison personnel in delaying access to or interfering with medical care, states a claim cognizable under § 1983. Id. at 104-05.

 However, not every claim of inadequate medical care rises to the level of a constitutional violation: "Medical malpractice does not become a constitutional violation merely because the victim is a prisoner." Id. at 106. Thus, a claim that a prison doctor has acted negligently in diagnosing or treating an inmate's medical condition, including a complaint that additional diagnostic techniques should have been employed, does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation and, hence, does not state a claim under § 1983.

 In his Complaint, Green describes the facts underlying his claim as follows:

 The facts in this Complaint is that the complaints I have made concerning my physical ailments have been neglected and not properly diagnosed.... I have complained to the medical staffs at these institutions about my aches, pains, and symptoms. They would prescribe pain-killers and muscle relaxants. These medications would work temporarily, but as time went on my physical condition got worse. When I complained about this a Physicians Aide (P.A.) or a Nurse would check my vitals, and tell me nothing was wrong, but would prescribe some form of pain-killer or muscle relaxer.

 * * *

 All the Facilities Doctors have administered pain-killers as a remedy but to no avail. The prison Doctors have taken blood samples, urine samples, listened to my organs with a stethoscope, and taken my blood pressure. They claim that all tests that have been taken returned negative. But this has not removed the fact that I still continue to ache and suffer from symptoms of physical ailments.

 I feel that my condition is deteriorating due to this unknown ailment that is persisting and even with the amount of medical ...


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