United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff Victoria Guidry seeks
review of the final decision of the Social Security
Commissioner denying her claim for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act. Rec. Doc. 22. Following cross-motions for
summary judgment (Rec. Docs. 19, 21), the Magistrate Judge
issued a Report and Recommendation (“Report”)
that Plaintiff's case be dismissed with prejudice. Rec.
Doc. 22. Plaintiff filed objections to that Report and
Recommendation. Rec. Doc. 23. For the reasons outlined below,
IT IS ORDERED that the Magistrate
Judge's Report is ADOPTED,
OVERRULING Plaintiff's objections;
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment is DENIED, and the
Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that Plaintiff's petition is
DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Guidry has previous work experience as a shrimp peeler for a
seafood company and as a door greeter at Wal-Mart. Rec. Doc.
23 at 2. Plaintiff fell from her stool while working at the
seafood factory on June 19, 2012, resulting in pain in her
neck, back, hip, and left upper arm. Id. at 2-3.
Plaintiff reported that this pain prevented her from sitting
for long periods at her job. Rec. Doc. 19-1 at 2. After her
attempts to return to work resulted in further pain,
Plaintiff began suffering from depression. Rec. Doc. 23 at 3.
filed for disability benefits and Dr. Kinnard performed an
orthopedic evaluation of Plaintiff on August 7, 2012. Rec.
Doc. 13-7 at 28. Dr. Kinnard released Plaintiff to return to
work after Plaintiff's evaluation revealed mild to
moderate findings, specifically minimal degeneration of the
cervical spine and no evidence of disc herniation.
Id. Dr. Kinnard further noted that Plaintiff's
“degree of subjective complaint far outweighs any
objective findings on physical examination and on diagnostic
tests.” Id. However, upon attempting to return
to work, Plaintiff reported having continued severe pain in
her mid-back, left knee, and left elbow, along with insomnia
and depression. Rec. Doc. 23 at 3-4. Plaintiff alleges that
this ongoing pain rendered her unable to work beginning in
January 2013. Id. at 4.
filed for Disability Insurance Benefits on March 22, 2013,
and Defendant denied Plaintiff's application for benefits
on August 6, 2013. Id. Plaintiff then sought and
received a hearing before an administrative law judge, which
was held on October 9, 2014. Id. The ALJ affirmed
the denial of Plaintiff's application. Rec. Doc. 13-2 at
22. The ALJ reached this conclusion after considering the
medical opinions and objective findings of four doctors, as
well as testimony from Plaintiff and vocational expert Beth
Drury. Id. at 30.
four doctors offered varying opinions about Plaintiff's
abilities. Dr. Guy Lefort performed a consultative physical
examination of Plaintiff in July 2013. Rec. Doc. 13-7 at 67.
Although Plaintiff displayed some decreased range of motion
in her neck, she had a normal gait and full range of motion
elsewhere. Id. at 71. Plaintiff exhibited
“normal pushing, pulling, crouching, squatting, and
stooping, ” and she was able to climb on and off the
examination table with no assistance. Id. Dr. Lefort
reported that Plaintiff would have trouble reaching for
objects for a sustained period of time, which would make her
job as a shrimp peeler “difficult.” Id.
William Fowler performed a psychological evaluation of
Plaintiff in July 2013, after which he recommended that
Plaintiff be limited to performing simple, repetitive tasks
for short periods of time. Id. at 77. Dr. Fowler
noted that Plaintiff's “pace and performance may
negatively be affected and she may be more unreliable over
extended periods.” Id.
Charles Lee, a non-treating physician, performed a review of
Plaintiff's medical records through July of 2013 and
determined that Plaintiff was not disabled. Rec. Doc. 13-3 at
13. Dr. Lee based these opinions upon mental
evaluations-which described Plaintiff's ability to work
as either “moderately” or “not
significantly” limited-as well as physical evaluations,
which suggested only partial limitations on physical work
such as lifting, climbing, and crouching. Id. at
Dr. Theryll Johnson, Plaintiff's treating physician,
composed a single-sentence “To Whom It May
Concern” letter on March 18, 2014. It states that
Plaintiff is unable to work due to severe back pain and
depression. Rec. Doc. 13-7 at 113.
considered the totality of the objective medical evidence,
Plaintiff's credibility, the conservative nature of
Plaintiff's treatment, and the record as a whole, before
concluding that Plaintiff was not “a totally disabled
individual.” Rec. Doc. 13-2 at 21. The ALJ found that
Plaintiff had a residual functioning capacity
(“RFC”) that allowed her to perform simple,
routine, repetitive work with the following limitations:
frequently operate left foot controls; occasionally climb,
balance, stoop, crouch, kneel and crawl; and frequently reach
and perform overhead reaching with the non-dominant left
upper extremity. Id. at 16. Accordingly, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff could return to her former work as
a door greeter or shrimp peeler or seek other light,
unskilled jobs that exist in Louisiana and the rest of the
country. Id. 21-22.
August 4, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's
request to review the ALJ's decision, after which
Plaintiff filed the instant action. Rec. Doc. 22 at 2.
Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on April 4,
2017 (Rec. Doc. 19), and Defendant filed a Cross Motion for
Summary Judgment on May 26, 2017 (Rec. Doc. 21). Magistrate
Judge Knowles issued a Report and Recommendation affirming
the ALJ's decision to dismiss Plaintiff's claims.