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Hill v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Maryland

August 15, 2016

JONATHAN JAY HILL
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          DEBORAH K. CHASANOW, United States District Judge.

         This case was referred to Magistrate Judge Thomas DiGirolamo for pretrial management and a Report and Recommendation for disposition, which Judge DiGirolamo issued on June 8, 2016. (ECF No. 22). Plaintiff Jonathan Jay Hill (“Plaintiff”) filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 25). For the following reasons, Plaintiff’s objection will be overruled, and the Report and Recommendation will be adopted.

         I. Background

         Additional factual background may be found in the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 22, at 2-9). Plaintiff suffered a cerebrovascular accident, or a stroke, on May 19, 2012, which Plaintiff contends prevented him from working. (Id. at 3). Plaintiff protectively filed for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on May 29, 2013. After his application was denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled under the definitions of the Social Security Act. (ECF No. 11-3, at 21-31). Plaintiff’s request for review from the appeals council was denied, and the ALJ’s decision became the final decision of the Commissioner.

         On April 10, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this court seeking review of the ALJ’s decision. (ECF No. 1). Plaintiff moved for summary judgment or, in the alternative, to remand. (ECF No. 17). Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin (“Defendant”) filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 18), and Plaintiff responded (ECF No. 21). On June 8, 2016, Judge DiGirolamo issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that this court grant Defendant’s motion, deny Plaintiff’s motion, and affirm the ALJ’s decision. (ECF No. 22). On June 24, Plaintiff filed an objection to the Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 25), and Defendant responded (ECF No. 28). Plaintiff argues that Judge DiGirolamo did “not address at all the ALJ’s failure to consider” certain medical entries in the record. (ECF No. 25, at 8).

         II. Standard of Review

         A. Review of Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, a district judge may designate a magistrate judge to conduct hearings and report proposed findings of fact and recommendations for action on a dispositive motion. Thereafter,

A party who is aggrieved by a magistrate judge’s report and recommendation as to a dispositive motion must file “specific written objections to the proposed findings and recommendations” within fourteen days. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). The district judge must then “determine de novo any part of the magistrate judge’s disposition that has been properly objected to.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3). But, the Court “need only conduct a de novo review of those portions of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation to which objection is made.” Chavis v. Smith, 834 F.Supp. 153, 154 (D.Md. 1993). As to those portions of the report for which there is no objection, the district court “must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to accept the recommendation.’” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Acc. Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315-16 (4thCir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 advisory committee note), cert. denied, 546 U.S. 1091 (2006).

Baltimore Line Handling Co. v. Brophy, 771 F.Supp.2d 531, 534-35 (D.Md. 2011). Here, Plaintiff’s objection contends:

Respectfully, the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation fails to address Plaintiff’s primary argument that the ALJ decision failed to consider numerous critical pieces of medical evidence and explain how, if at all, that evidence was evaluated in concluding that the opinion of treating psychiatrist Milan Joshi, M.D.’s opinion was entitled to “no weight” and that “the medical evidence . . . does not substantiate disabling limitations.” In particular, the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation simply addresses the medical evidence in general terms without considering any specific medical entries ignored by the ALJ’s decision.

         (ECF No. 25, at 1). In short, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ impermissibly ignored pieces of material evidence regarding his medical condition. Thus, the undersigned will conduct a de novo review of the portions of the Report and Recommendation regarding the ALJ’s assessment of evidence. The remaining sections of the Report and Recommendation will be assessed for clear error.

         B. Federal Court Review of ALJ Decision

         The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently summarized the standard of review courts use when reviewing an ...


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