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Payne v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 21, 2017

JESSE A. PAYNE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER: (1) OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTIONS [Doc. 17]; (2) ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [Doc. 16]; (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. 12]; AND (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. 15]

          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On August 16, 2017, Magistrate Judge Mona K. Majzoub issued a Report and Recommendation (“R & R”) [Doc. 16], recommending that Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 12] be DENIED and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 15] be GRANTED. Plaintiff objects to the R & R. [Doc. 17].

         For the following reasons, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's objections [Doc. 17] and ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Majzoub's R & R [Doc. 16].

         Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 15] is GRANTED; Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment [Doc. 12] is DENIED.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3), a district judge is required to determine de novo any part of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation that has been properly objected to. Id.; see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). This de novo review requires the Court to re-examine all relevant evidence previously reviewed by the magistrate judge to determine whether the recommendation should be accepted, rejected, or modified in whole or in part. Cole v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 105 F.Supp.3d 738, 741 (E.D. Mich. 2015); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         Plaintiff sets forth two objections to the R & R. First, Plaintiff argues that Magistrate Judge Majzoub “engaged in impermissible post hoc rationalizations in reviewing the [Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”)] opinion, basing conclusions not upon findings rendered by the ALJ but instead upon her own rationalizations for those findings.” [Doc. 17, PgID 804]. This objection concerns the ALJ's inaccurate reference to the results of an August 2010 tilt table test (conducted by Dr. Edward Robles) as “normal” instead of “abnormal.” Although the ALJ mistakenly indicated that the test results were normal, he accurately summarized the detailed findings of the test - which included irregular/adverse results.

         Noting that the ALJ “essentially recited the results of Plaintiff's tilt table test verbatim, ” Magistrate Judge Majzoub found that:

[The ALJ's] error in reciting the test results . . . [was not] a fundamental mischaracterization of the evidence sufficient to warrant remand of this matter, particularly in light of the fact that (1) the ALJ also noted the abnormal results of the test, e.g., hypotension, bradycardia, and near syncope; and (2) despite noting the abnormal results of the tilt table test in several of his reports regarding Plaintiff's treatment, Dr. Robles did not assess any greater functional limitations to Plaintiff as a result of this test than the ALJ assessed in determining Plaintiff's RFC. Notably, Plaintiff fails to mention that on multiple occasions, Dr. Robles opined that Plaintiff was able to work, except he should not work around prisoners until his syncopal episodes improved. (See TR 629, 632, 636, 639-42, 646). The ALJ's RFC assessment is not inconsistent with Dr. Robles's opinion; in fact, it actually assesses greater functional limitations to Plaintiff than Dr. Robles did after considering Plaintiff's abnormal tilt test. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion should be denied with regard to this issue.

[Doc. 16, PgID 796].

         Plaintiff says the Magistrate Judge erred: (1) “in overlooking the ALJ's mischaracterization of Dr. Robles' tilt table test result as ‘normal' when it is plainly ‘abnormal'”; and (2) “chock[ing] up the ALJ's plain error as typographic in nature.” [Doc. 17, PgID 805-06].

         Plaintiff fails to show that the ALJ's error in reciting the test results constitutes reversible error, especially considering that: (1) the ALJ accurately recited the adverse findings from the test; (2) the ALJ assessed greater functional limitations than Dr. Robles (who did not mischaracterize the results of the test); (3) the August 2010 test was only one of many medical records in the evidence during the period at issue (i.e., June 2010 to December 2015); and (4) the ALJ accurately summarized all of the other relevant medical records in the decision. This alone is fatal to Plaintiff's first objection. However, this objection also fails when considering Plaintiff's arguments.

         Plaintiff's argument that the Magistrate Judge “overlook[ed]” the ALJ's mischaracterization of the test result lacks support. Based on the above excerpt from the R & R, it is clear that Magistrate Judge Majzoub did not “overlook” the ALJ's error in reciting the test results. Rather, she acknowledged the error and found that it was not a fundamental ...


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