United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
R. Grand United States Magistrate Judge
OPINION AND ORDER: (1) SUSTAINING DEFENDANT'S
OBJECTIONS (ECF #14); (2) REJECTING THE REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE DAVID R. GRAND (ECF #13);
(3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF
#10); and (4) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT (ECF #11)
D. Borman United States District Judge
March 4, 2019, Magistrate Judge David R. Grand issued a
Report and Recommendation (ECF #13) addressing the
outstanding motions in this action. In the Report and
Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge recommended that this
Court deny in part Plaintiff Denolis Coleman's December
18, 2018 Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF #10), to the extent
she seeks an award of benefits, but grant Plaintiff's
Motion to the extent she requests remand under sentence four
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and deny Defendant Commissioner
of Social Security's January 16, 2019 Motion for Summary
Judgment (ECF #11).
before the Court is Defendant's Objection to the Report
and Recommendation. (ECF #14, Def.'s Obj., Mar. 12,
2019.) Plaintiff filed a Response to Defendant's
Objections on March 12, 2019. (ECF #15.) Having conducted a
de novo review of the parts of the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation to which objections
have been filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), the
Court will sustain Defendant's Objection and reject the
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.
findings of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
and the pertinent portions of the Administrative Record are
accurately and adequately cited to in the Report and
Recommendation. There are no material inconsistencies with
these accounts and the Court incorporates those factual
recitations here. (ECF #13, Report and Recommendation, PgID
1600.) The following summary contains only the facts
essential to the Court's evaluation of Defendant's
applied for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”)
on January 28, 2015, following a stroke. (Tr. 28.) On May 12,
2017 Plaintiff appeared for and testified at a hearing before
ALJ Kari Deming. (Tr. 27.) Plaintiff was represented by
attorney Linda Caruso at the hearing. (Tr. 28.) On August 14,
2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on Plaintiffs
claims. (Tr. 25.)
found that Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
“late effects of cerebrovascular accident
(“CVA”), hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea,
and depression/anxiety related to history of CVA.” (Tr.
30.) Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr.
31.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the Residual
Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium
work with the following additional limitations: can
frequently stoop, crouch, crawl, kneel, and climb ramps and
stairs; can never be exposed to workplace hazards, such as
ropes, ladders, scaffolds, or unprotected heights; and is
limited to simple, routine tasks. (Tr. 32). At Step Four, the
ALJ found that Coleman is not capable of performing any of
her past relevant work. (Tr. 37).
Five, the ALJ determined, based in part on testimony provided
by the vocational expert in response to hypothetical
questions, that Coleman is capable of performing the jobs of
packer (63, 000 jobs nationally), assembler (71, 000 jobs),
and cleaner (51, 000 jobs). (Tr. 38). As a result, the ALJ
concluded that Coleman is not disabled under the Act. (Tr.
39). Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's decision by
the Appeals Council, which was denied on July 13, 2018.
(Id. at PgID 26.) On September 7, 2018, Plaintiff
commenced this action for judicial review. (ECF #1.)
Parties filed cross motions for summary judgment (ECF #10,
Pl.'s Mot., Dec. 18, 2018; ECF #11, Def.'s Mot., Jan.
16, 2019.) Plaintiff filed a Response (styled
“Reply”) to Defendant's Motion. (ECF #12,
Feb. 5, 2019.)
Report and Recommendation on the cross motions (ECF #13), the
Magistrate Judge recommended that the Court deny
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment, and grant
Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment to extent it requested
remand under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Although Plaintiff did not raise this issue in her Motion for
Summary Judgment, the Magistrate Judge found that the ALJ did
not base her finding that Plaintiff was not disabled on
substantial evidence because the ALJ had failed to seek
certain medical records that were not included among
Plaintiffs submissions. On March 12, 2019, Defendant filed an
objection to the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation, stating, “The R&R improperly
required the [ALJ] to act as ‘substitute counsel'
and order additional records, even though Plaintiffs attorney
assured the ALJ that the record was complete.” (ECF
#14, PgID 628.) Plaintiff file her Response to the Objection
on March 12, 2019. (ECF #15.)
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b) and 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1), the Court conducts a de novo review of
the portions of the Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendation to which a party has filed “specific
written objections” in a timely manner. Lyons v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec., 351 F.Supp.2d 659, 661 (E.D. Mich.
2004). A district court “may accept, reject, or modify,
in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by
the magistrate judge.” Id. Only those
objections that are specific are entitled to a de
novo review under the statute. Mira v.
Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). “The
parties have the duty to pinpoint those portions of the
magistrate's report that the district court must
specially consider.” Id. (internal quotation
marks omitted). A general objection, or one that merely
restates arguments previously presented, does not
sufficiently identify alleged errors on the part of the
magistrate judge. An “objection” that does
nothing more than disagree with a magistrate judge's
determination “without explaining the source of the
error” is not a valid objection. Howard v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932 F.2d 505, 509
(6th Cir. 1991).
reviewing the findings of the ALJ, the Court is limited to
determining whether those findings are supported by
substantial evidence and made pursuant to proper legal
standards. See Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
486 F.3d 234, 241 (6th Cir. 2007) (citing 42 U.S.C. §
405(h)); see also Cutlip v. Sec't of Health and Human
Servs., 25 F.3d 284, 286 (6th Cir. 1994). Substantial
evidence is “‘such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Kyle v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 609 F.3d 847, 854 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Lindsley v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.3d 601,
604 (6th Cir. 2009)); see also McGlothin v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., 299 Fed.Appx. 516, 522 (6th Cir. 2008)
(recognizing that substantial evidence is “more than a
scintilla of evidence but less than a preponderance”)
(internal quotation marks omitted). “If the
Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial
evidence, [the court] must defer to that ...