United States District Court, D. Maryland
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS
STEPHANIE A. GALLAGHER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
to Standing Order 2014-01, the above-captioned case has been
referred to me to review the parties' dispositive motions
and to make recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and Local Rule 301.5(b)(ix). [ECF No. 4].
Plaintiff Benjamin Turner (“Mr. Turner”) filed
this appeal of the denial of his claims for disability
benefits by the Social Security Administration (“the
Commissioner”). [ECF No. 1]. The Commissioner has filed
a Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), on the grounds that Mr.
Turner failed to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted. [ECF No. 14]. On December 20, 2017, the Clerk's
Office sent a Rule 12/56 letter to Mr. Turner, advising him
of the potential consequences of a failure to oppose the
Commissioner's Motion. [ECF No. 15]. Mr. Turner has not
filed a response. No hearing is deemed necessary.
See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons
stated below, I recommend that the Court grant the
Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss.
October 15, 2012, and October 16, 2012, Mr. Turner
protectively filed for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). [ECF No. 14-2, Exs. 1, 2]. His claims
were denied initially and on reconsideration. Id.
¶ 3(a). An Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
held a hearing on August 31, 2013, and issued an unfavorable
decision on May 8, 2015. Id. ¶¶ 3(a)-(b).
The Appeals Council denied Mr. Turner's request for
further review, so the ALJ's May 8, 2015 decision
constituted the final, reviewable decision of the Agency.
Id. ¶ 3(b).
October 13, 2016, Mr. Turner filed a civil action, requesting
review of the Commissioner's unfavorable decision, in the
United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
Id. ¶ 3(c); see also Turner v. Colvin,
Civil No. ADC-16-3432, 2017 WL 3446767 (D. Md. Aug. 10,
2017). The district court denied Mr. Turner's motion for
summary judgment and affirmed the Commissioner's decision
on August 10, 2017. Turner, 2017 WL 3446767, at *1.
On September 28, 2017, and October 20, 2017, Mr. Turner filed
second and third civil actions in the United States District
Court for the District of Maryland. [ECF Nos. 1, 6]. In his
complaints, Mr. Turner stated that the date of the
Commissioner's final decision is August 10, 2017.
Id. The Commissioner, however, has not rendered a
final decision on Mr. Turner's Social Security claims
since its May 8, 2015 decision, which was affirmed by the
district court on August 10, 2017. See [ECF No.
14-2, ¶¶ 3(a)-(c)]; Turner, 2017 WL
3446767, at *1.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction are
governed by Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. While the plaintiff bears the burden of proving
that the court has jurisdiction over the claim or controversy
at issue, a 12(b)(1) motion should only be granted if the
“material jurisdictional facts are not in dispute and
the moving party is entitled to prevail as a matter of
law.” Ferdinand-Davenport v. Children's
Guild, 742 F.Supp.2d 772, 777 (D. Md. 2010) (quoting
Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., a Div. of Standex Int'l
Corp., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999)). In a motion
to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the
pleadings should be regarded as “mere evidence on the
issue, ” and courts may “consider evidence
outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to
one for summary judgment.” Evans, 166 F.3d at
647 (quoting Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.
Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir.
Commissioner contends that this Court does not have
jurisdiction over Mr. Turner's claim, because Mr. Turner
does not seek review of a final decision of the Commissioner
and, therefore, has failed to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. See [ECF No. 14, at 2-4].
Specifically, the Commissioner notes that her final decision
regarding Mr. Turner's claims for benefits was issued on
May 8, 2015, and that the Commissioner's final decision
was already affirmed by the district court on August 10,
2017. Id. at 3.
405(g) of the SSA, the statute on which the Commissioner
bases her motion, provides, in relevant part:
Any individual, after any final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security made after a hearing to
which he was a party, irrespective of the amount in
controversy, may obtain a review of such decision by a civil
action commenced within sixty days after the mailing to him
of notice of such decision or within such further time as the
Commissioner of Social Security may allow.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (emphasis added). Section 405(h) of
the SSA further provides that “[n]o findings of fact or
decision of the Commissioner  shall be reviewed by any
person, tribunal, or government agency except as herein
provided.” Id. § 405(h). Thus, section
405(g) “is the sole avenue for judicial review of all
claim[s] arising under” the SSA. Heckler v.
Ringer, 466 U.S. 602, 602 (1984).
Mr. Turner does not seek review of any final decision of the
Commissioner, there is no viable basis for subject matter
jurisdiction in this matter. As the Commissioner correctly
observes in her Motion to Dismiss, Mr. Turner received the
Commissioner's final decision regarding his claims for
benefits on May 8, 2015, [ECF No. 14-2, Ex. 8], and
subsequently sought review of that decision with the district
court in October, 2016, id. ¶ 3(c). Pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the district court issued an order
affirming the Commissioner's final decision, and closed
the case on August 10, 2017. [ECF No. 11]. It appears that
Mr. Turner now seeks review of the district court's
August 10, 2017 decision. See [ECF Nos. 1, 6]. This
Court, however, is not permitted to review the district
court's August 10, 2017 decision, or to readjudicate Mr.
Turner's challenge to the Commissioner's May 8, 2015
decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see also
Andrews v. Daw, 201 F.3d 521, 524-25 (4th Cir. 2000)
(“Under the doctrine of res judicata, ‘a final
judgment on the merits bars further claims by parties or
their privies based on the same cause of action.'”)
(quoting Montana v. United States, 440 U.S. 147, 153
(1979)). Accordingly, because this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction to consider Mr. Turner's appeal, I recommend
that the Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss be granted.