United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Northern Division
Patricia T. Morris Magistrate Judge.
OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS, ADOPTING THE REPORT
AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
SUMMARY JUDGMENT, GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT, AND AFFIRMING THE DECISION OF THE
L. LUDINGTON United States District Judge.
January 20, 2017 Magistrate Judge Patricia T. Morris authored
a Report and Recommendation addressing Plaintiff Elizabeth
Diane Weaver's motion for summary judgment and Defendant
commissioner of social security's motion for summary
judgment. ECF Nos. 10, 11. In the report and recommendation,
Judge Morris recommends denying Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment and granting Defendant's motion for
summary judgment. ECF No. 12. On February 2, 2017 Plaintiff
timely filed objections. ECF No. 13.
to a de novo review of the record, Plaintiff Weaver's
objections will be overruled and the report and
recommendation will be adopted. Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment will be denied, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment will be granted, and Plaintiff's claims
will be dismissed with prejudice.
the magistrate judge's report did not include a general
summary of the facts, a summary is provided here. Plaintiff
Elizabeth Weaver was born on April 5, 1970, and resides in
Flint, Michigan. See Pg. ID 86. She has a
driver's license, but can no longer drive due to
medication. Id. Plaintiff graduated from high
school, and is a certified medical assistant in phlebotomy.
Id. Plaintiff previously worked as a cashier from
February of 1985 to November of 2008. See Pg. ID
116. She began working as a medical assistant in December of
2003, but was terminated in March of 2011. Id. She
was unable to obtain substitute employment following her
termination, and alleges that she became disabled on July 21,
2011. See Pg. Id. 87, 190, 197.
suffers from a variety of ailments. She regularly treated
with Doctor Gary Roome, M.D. at the Burton Medical Clinic in
Saginaw, Michigan. See Pg. Id. 317.
Plaintiff also repeatedly visited the Taylor Psychological
Clinic for complaints of depression and anxiety. See
Pg. ID 304-14. From 2012 to 2013, Plaintiff also regularly
visited the Genesys Regional Medical Clinic in Burton,
Michigan, for issues ranging from hypothyroidism, depression,
asthma, bug bites, and vaginal discharge. See Pg. ID
5, 2012 Plaintiff visited Dr. Roome at the Burton Clinic
after allegedly dropping a chair on her right shoulder. Pg
Id. 322. Plaintiff reported a sharp, intermittent
pain in her right shoulder. Id. An examination of
her right elbow conducted at the McLaren Regional Medical
Center on May 14, 2012 identified no acute fracture,
dislocation, or joint effusion. See Pg. ID 325. Two
days later, on May 16, 2012 Plaintiff visited the Burton
Medical Clinic and reported a variety of issues including ear
issues and chronic soreness in her right arm and chest. Pg.
Id. 327. Plaintiff also reported that she had
injured her right side on May 13, 2012 when she was
“horsing around' with a friend. Id.
Plaintiff therefore requested refills of medication and an
increase to her Xanax prescription. Id. An
inspection of her shoulder and elbow revealed that Plaintiff
was not in acute distress. Id.
returned to the Burton clinic on May 31, 2012 and reported
that she was no longer in any pain. See Pg. ID 331.
While Plaintiff reported a cough and sore throat, Dr. Hamaker
noted that Plaintiff used marijuana, and suggested that she
cease smoking. Pg. ID 331-33. In a visit on July 13, 2012
Plaintiff reported that she had chronic pain in her feet, but
left without being seen by Dr. Roome. See Pg. ID
an appointment at the Taylor Clinic on November 6, 2012,
Plaintiff reported a number of traumatic events in her past,
and noted that she did not like people. See Pg. ID
309. The treating therapist noted that Plaintiff spent her
free time watching television, using the computer, and
completing cross word puzzles. See Pg. ID 310. He
found her to be alert and cooperative, with appropriate
appearance and a normal stream of thought. See Pg.
ID 311. He noted that Plaintiff had an anxious reaction and
reported some auditory hallucinations. Id. Plaintiff
was diagnosed with general anxiety. Pg. ID 312. On December
2, 2012 Plaintiff visited the Genesys Clinic and saw Doctor
Madonna Hanna, M.D, regarding her depression. Doctor Hanna
noted that Plaintiff had normal orientation to person, place
and time, but discussed a variety of problems, jumping from
one issue to another. Pg. ID 292. Doctor Hamma directed
Plaintiff to continue taking her medication and to take
vitamin D, and directed her to follow up with a psychologist.
March 14, 2013 Plaintiff visited the Genesys Regional Medical
Clinic for her asthma. See Pg. ID 300. Dr. Hamma
found that Plaintiff's asthma was triggered by cold
weather and upper respiratory tract infection. Id.
She noted Plaintiff's symptoms of stable coughing and
shortness of breath during exertion, but noted that Plaintiff
did not report any chest tightness. Id. A physical
examination of Plaintiff did not reveal any signs of
respiratory distress, wheezing, or labored breathing.
See Pg. ID 301. Overall, Dr. Hamma assed Plaintiff
as having mild persistent asthma, and found that
Plaintiff's asthma was well controlled by her medication.
See Pg. ID 272-73.
April 17, 2013 Plaintiff underwent a mental status
examination at the Taylor Clinic, which revealed that
Plaintiff was attired appropriately with unremarkable
expression and posture. See Pg. ID 307. Plaintiff
was found to be alert, with normal memory, orientation,
thought progression, language, and perception. Id.
She was found to have good insight and judgment. Id.
On April 26, 2013 Plaintiff visited Dr. Roome at the Burton
Clinic complaining of fatigue, but denying insomnia, impaired
concentration, or suicidal ideation. See Pg. ID 341.
She was reported to be alert and cooperative, with a normal
mood and attention span, and she denied experiencing any
chronic pain. See Pg. ID 340-42.
nodular thyroid issues, Plaintiff made bi-annual visits to
Endocrinologist Hemant T. Thawani, M.D. Dr. Thawani's
reports indicate that thyroid biopsies returned benign and
that Plaintiff did not have positive thyroid autoantibodies.
See Pg. ID 284-88. She was prescribed medication to
alleviate her symptoms. Id. Plaintiff was repeatedly
encouraged to remain adherent to her treatment regime, pg. ID
287-88, and Plaintiff acknowledged to various providers that
she did not take her medication regularly. See,
e.g., Pg. ID 291.
filed an application for Social Security Disability
(“SSD”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) on March 11, 2013. Plaintiff alleges
severe impairments arising out of major depressive disorder,
generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder,
hyperthyroidism, chronic asthma, bilateral foot pain,
impairments of the neck, back, shoulder and arm, decreased
grip strength, decreased range of motion, and a sleep
disorder. See Pg. ID 274-75.
Plaintiff filed her application, on July 8, 2013 Psychologist
Mathew P. Dickson prepared a psychological report after
visiting with Plaintiff. Plaintiff reported that while she
did not have contact with friends, she did have contact with
family members. Pg. ID 348. She reported that she liked to
stay at home, but was capable of basic household chores, such
as basic cooking, self-care, hygiene, and occasional visits
to the store. Id. Doctor Dickson noted that
Plaintiff was well groomed, neatly dressed, and with
spontaneous and organized stream of thought. Id.
While she reported that she sometimes hallucinated while on
medication, Doctor Dickson did not find these descriptions
conclusive of a psychotic disorder. Pg. ID 349. Doctor
Dickson concluded that Plaintiff's “mental
abilities to understand, attend to, remember, and carry out
instructions related to work-related behaviors are mildly
impaired.” See Pg. ID 350. He further found
that her abilities “to respond appropriately to
co-workers and supervision and to adapt to change and stress
in the workplace are moderately impaired.” Id.
He determined that her GAF score was 55.
17, 2013 Doctor Michael Geoghegan, D.O., conducted a
consultative physical examination of Plaintiff. Pg. ID 353.
Dr. Geoghegan noted that, while Plaintiff alleged that she
had been asthmatic for around a decade, she had not required
any emergency room visits or hospitalizations in the past 12
months. He reported that she suffered from a chronic dry
cough, that environmental allergens exacerbated her breathing
problems, and that her symptoms worsened during summer, but
that she managed her symptoms with Ventolin. In conducting
his physical examination, Dr. Geoghegan determined that
Plaintiff's lungs were clear, and that her claims of
shortness of breath were not substantiated by the physical
examination. Id. He concluded that she should
continue to use her medication and follow up with her primary
doctor on a regular basis. See Pg. ID 357.
Geoghegan further noted that Plaintiff suffered from
hypothyroidism, for which she took Synthroid 75 mg daily.
See Pg. ID 353. He reported that thyroid biopsies
returned benign, and concluded that she should continue to
follow up with her doctor and have semiannual thyroid
function tests. See Pg. ID 357.
regard to Plaintiff's claims of physical pain, Dr.
Geoghegan determined that Plaintiff's gate was normal,
her range of motion for all joints checked in full, her
straight leg raising test was negative, her grip strength was
intact, and there was full fist bilaterally. Plaintiff was
able to “pick up a coin, button a button, and open a
door with both hands. The patient had no difficulty getting
on and off the examination table, no difficulty heel and toe
walking, no difficulty squatting, and no difficulty
hopping.” Pg. ID 354. He concluded that Plaintiff was
able “to use her upper extremities for lifting,
pulling, pushing, or carrying. No restrictions were noted
with regard to her grip strength in either hand.”
initial applications were denied on August 6, 2013. Along
with the denial, Plaintiff was provided with disability
determination explanations that included findings by state
agency consultants Lenoard C. Balunas, Ph.D., B.D. Choi,
M.D., and Nancy Sarti. After the initial denial Plaintiff
submitted a series of supplemental medical records.
See Pg. ID 104.
supplemental physical treatment records mostly related to her
claims of right shoulder and arm pain. See Pg. ID
485. On July 18, 2013 Plaintiff visited the Burton Medical
Clinic and complained of level 10, sharp, constant stomach
pain that had lasted for two weeks. See Pg. ID 538.
Plaintiff was prescribed Zantac. See Pg. ID 540.
Plaintiff again visited the clinic on August 3, 2013 and
reported that she was not in any pain. See Pg. ID
534. On August 29, 2013 Plaintiff visited the clinic and
complained of sharp, constant, Level 10 pain all over her
body. See Pg. ID 530. She then informed Dr. Roone
that she had anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue. Dr. Roone
prescribed her Hydroxyzine Pamoate. See Pg. ID 533.
Plaintiff then visited the emergency room on September 3,
2013 for neck pain. See Pg. ID 542. An exam revealed
prevertebral soft tissue, epiglottis, and aryepiglottic folds
within normal limits, with minor degenerative changes noted.
Id. On September 5, 2013, Plaintiff visited the
Burton Medical Clinic and complained of lower back pain, but
reported that she did not experience any chronic pain.
See Pg. ID 526. Dr. Roome prescribed Plaintiff
Indomethacin and Tramadol. See Pg. ID 529.
a visit to the Urban Health and Wellness Center on October
10, 2013, Plaintiff stated that she had experienced
intermittent neck and right arm pain for around four years,
and that the symptoms were getting worse. See Pg. ID
498. The treating physician determined that Plaintiff had
impaired muscle endurance, muscle strength, posture, joint
mobility, and range of motion. See Pg. ID 500-01. He
noted that these issues were associated “with
connective tissue dysfunction, ” but determined that
the prognosis was good. He also determined that Plaintiff had
positive spurlings, slump bilaterally, and decreased right
grip strength. Plaintiff was ...