Filed Date: Dec. 12, 2000
Closed Date: Oct. 14, 2022
Clearinghouse coding complete
On December 12, 2000, a transgender person who was incarcerated at the Massachusetts Correction Institute in Norfolk filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Filing pro se, the plaintiff sued the Massachusetts Department of Corrections (the "DOC"), the Correctional Medical Services, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The incarcerated person sought injunctive relief and damages to be determined by the jury, alleging violations of her constitutional rights and immunities due to, among others, failure to provide her with adequate medical treatment for her serious medical need, which was severe Gender Dysphoria (GD). Specifically, the incarcerated person sought injunctive relief to require the DOC to provide appropriate medical care in accordance with the standards of care for GD, which could include hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery.
The case is essentially a continuation of Kosilek v. Nelson, which can be found in the Clearinghouse here. In Kosilek v. Nelson, the same plaintiff filed pro se a lawsuit against the Sheriff of the Bristol County and the Commissioner of Massachusetts Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under the same allegations of failure to provide medical services for the incarcerated person’s GD. The court in Kosilek v. Nelson (Judge Mark Wolf) ruled that the plaintiff's GD constituted serious medical need, which was not adequately treated, but nevertheless stated that the Commissioner of the DOC was not liable for constitutional violations because there was no deliberate indifference to the medical needs of the plaintiff, but said that the Commissioner was then on notice and will provide adequate treatment for the plaintiff's need. Kosilek v. Maloney, 221 F. Supp. 2d 156 (D. Mass. 2002). No injunction, or any other action by the DOC was ordered. The decision in that case bears substantial influence on the outcome of the present case.
The present case was stayed August 7, 2001, until the resolution of the aforementioned case. The court (Judge Mark Wolf) then issued several other orders, maintaining the stay and requesting the parties to inform the court if the stay should be lifted and why. Subsequently, over several years, the plaintiff and the defendants filed several status reports on whether the claim should be dismissed.
On June 6, 2005, the plaintiff and the Correctional Medical Services entered a stipulation of dismissal, dismissing the claims against it without prejudice and costs and waiving right of appeal. On July 1, 2005, the University of Massachusetts Medical School and its medical officers entered into a similar stipulation of dismissal with the plaintiff, dismissing all the claims against them without prejudice and costs and waiving right of appeal.
On July 15, 2005, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, alleging inadequate medical care for the plaintiff's GD, against the Commissioner of the DOC and various employees and officers of the DOC. The complaint specified that after the decision in Kosilek v. Nelson, the plaintiff had received treatment for GD from medical practitioners, including hormone therapy, and had been evaluated and recommended for sex reassignment surgery, but the DOC had interfered with the treatment by denying her the surgery and hiring its own medical practitioners, who did not recommend the surgery. The plaintiff sought injunctive relief, enjoining the defendants to provide her with adequate medical care for her GD based on the recommendations of medical practitioners, including sex reassignment surgery. The plaintiff was now represented by private counsel and also sought an award of attorney's fees.
The non-jury trial, presided over by Judge Mark Wolf, began on May 30, 2006. The trial ended in May 2008 and the court did not hear anymore testimony. However, the court continued to hear arguments of the parties over the next three years.
Finally, the court issued its decision, finding a violation of the Eight Amendment by the defendant, on September 4, 2012. The court pointed out that it expressed that it expected that adequate care will be provided to the plaintiff after the DOC was on notice in Kosilek v. Nelson. The court ruled that the plaintiff still has a severe GD that was not adequately treated, and posed severe risk of harm to the plaintiff. The reasons for inadequate treatment served no legitimate purpose, and the Commissioner claims of security concerns were pretextual. The plaintiff had been living as a woman in the prison for some time without any security issues. The court stated that the Commissioner was motivated by concerns of controversy and criticism. Therefore, based on the testimony of the medical experts, the Court concluded that the only adequate treatment was sex reassignment surgery and issued an injunction to provide the plaintiff with the surgery. Kosilek v. Spencer, 889 F. Supp. 2d 190 (D. Mass 2012). The possible award of attorneys' fees was reserved for future consideration.
On September 16, 2012, the court issued an order that the parties must meet at least once to discuss a resolution of the question of the award of attorneyss fees. Kosilek v. Spencer, 891 F. Supp. 2d 226 (D. Mass. 2012). The motion for attorneys' fees was filed by the plaintiff on October 10, 2012.
The defendant appealed to the First Circuit Court of Appeals on October 2, 2012. He also filed a motion for the stay of execution of the final judgment, which was granted on November 20, 2012, under conditions of reporting of the progress in preparation for the sex reassignment surgery.
On December 19, 2012, the district court held a hearing on the motion of attorney's fees.
The First Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Ojetta Thompson) issued its decision on January 17, 2014, affirming the decision of the district court and the injunction to provide the plaintiff with the sex reassignment surgery. However, on February 12, 2014, the appeals court entered an order to rehear the case en banc after the majority of judges voted to do so, withdrawing and vacating its judgment on January 17, 2014.
On May 8, 2014, the appeals court reheard the case. On December 16, 2014, the court decided that, given the positive effects resulting from the DOC's current treatment method and the DOC's plan to treat suicidal ideation if it arose, the DOC's decision not to provide SRS did not illustrate disregard of the plaintiff's medical needs. The court found that the medical care provided to the plaintiff by the DOC met society's minimum standards of decency, that the security concerns the DOC highlighted were reasonable, that the DOC was entitled to deference, and that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate an Eighth Amendment violation.
On May 18, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiff's petition for a writ of certiorari. In response, the district court ordered that the case be dismissed on June 4, 2015.
On July 30, 2018, the plaintiff (once again pro se) moved for relief of judgment and appointment of counsel. However, the district court denied both motions as not timely on August 10, 2018.
That same month, the plaintiff filed a new lawsuit on August 27, 2018, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against the then Massachusetts Commissioner of Correction. Filing pro se, the plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, including a declaration that the defendant violated her statutory and constitutional rights, an order to transfer the plaintiff to a women’s facility, and an order to provide gender-affirming surgery. The plaintiff also highlighted a change in state law (the Criminal Justice Reform Act), which was signed in 2018. The new law was aimed at providing protection to transgender people incarcerated in state prisons.
The case was assigned to Judge Allison D. Burroughs on August 28, 2018. The plaintiff moved to reassign this case to Judge Wolf, who had been assigned to the previous case. Judge Burroughs noted that the local rule governing related cases did not apply because the previous case had been closed more than two years before this new case. Accordingly, Judge Burroughs denied the motion on April 9, 2019.
The plaintiff moved for summary judgment on April 23, 2019, and the defendant moved to defer consideration on May 9, 2019. This was in view of ongoing security evaluations being performed to transfer the plaintiff to the women’s facility. On September 9, 2019, the plaintiff was transferred. The court noted in a hearing on October 24, 2019, that there had been positive changes and recommended staying the case for a few months. Both parties agreed.
After another hearing on January 22, 2020, Magistrate Judge Cabell denied the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment without prejudice as not ripe for adjudication for lack of discovery.
The defendant filed a status report on April 30, 2020, indicating that the Gender Dysphoria Treatment Committee voted to move forward with gender affirming surgery. On August 31, 2021, the plaintiff underwent the surgery at Boston Medical Center.
On January 4, 2022, the defendant moved for summary judgment. The plaintiff opposed this motion, alleging that the defendant continued to violate the Fourteenth Amendment rights of the plaintiff and other transgender incarcerated persons. On January 21, 2022, the plaintiff also moved to amend her complaint. Further, the plaintiff moved for injunctive relief on June 8, 2022, requesting a single occupancy cell. Judge Cabell denied both motions on September 26, 2022. Regarding the motion to amend, Judge Cabell noted that this case concerned the plaintiff’s transfer and surgery, not other transgender incarcerated persons, and new claims related to the latter would “essentially require starting the entire case from scratch, with additional discovery and motion practice.” Regarding the requested injunctive relief, the court found it was not related to the plaintiff’s original claims.
Judge Cabell also denied the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on September 27, 2022 as moot. That same day, the court dismissed the case. The plaintiff moved for reconsideration on October 3, 2022 of the denial of the permanent injunction to house the plaintiff in a single cell. Judge Cabell denied the motion on October 14, 2022.
This case appears to be closed.
Zhandos Kuderin (4/4/2014)
Katherine Reineck (11/1/2015)
Daniel Fryer (2/15/2016)
Stephanie Chin (4/17/2023)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4276512/parties/kosilek-v-department-of-corr/
Brody, David L. (Massachusetts)
Chan, Christina Y. (Massachusetts)
Cohen, Frances S. (Massachusetts)
Craft, Jared A. (Massachusetts)
Brighton, Anthony R. (New York)
Howard, Jeffrey R. (New Hampshire)
Kayatta, William Joseph Jr. (Maine)
Lynch, Sandra Lea (Massachusetts)
Thompson, Ojetta Rogeriee (Rhode Island)
Torruella, Juan R. (Puerto Rico)
Wolf, Mark Lawrence (Massachusetts)
See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4276512/kosilek-v-department-of-corr/
Last updated June 28, 2023, 3:14 a.m.
State / Territory: Massachusetts
Filing Date: Dec. 12, 2000
Closing Date: Oct. 14, 2022
Case Ongoing: No
Transgender prisoner in a male prison
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: Yes
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Affected Sex or Gender:
Type of Facility: