United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
WILSON DORSEY JR.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION
ORDER AND REASONS
the court is plaintiff Wilson Dorsey, Jr.'s motion for
reconsideration of a judgment in favor of defendant Social
Security Administration that dismissed plaintiff's
claims. See Rec. Docs. 14, 17, 18, 19. Defendant did not file
a response. For the reasons discussed below, IT IS
ORDERED that the motion is DENIED.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
facts of plaintiff's underlying case are discussed in
greater detail in this Court's Order and Reasons adopting
the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation to grant
defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment and dismiss
plaintiff's claims. See Rec. Docs. 14, 17. The facts are
summarized here briefly. On April 13, 2011, plaintiff Wilson
Dorsey, Jr. was determined to be disabled by Administrative
Law Judge Voisin for the severe impairments of disorders of
the back and hypertension beginning on August 10, 2010. Rec.
Doc. 8-2 at 15. On September 15, 2016, Administrative Law
Judge Henderson decided that plaintiff was no longer disabled
as of June 11, 2014. Rec. Doc. 8-2 at 20. After the Appeals
Council denied plaintiff's request to reconsider ALJ
Henderson's decision, plaintiff filed the instant civil
action. Rec. Doc. 8-2 at 2. Plaintiff and defendant
subsequently filed cross motions for summary judgment, and
the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation to
deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant
defendant's cross motion for summary judgment. Rec. Doc.
14. On January 30, 2019, we adopted the magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, and entered judgment
in favor of defendant, dismissing plaintiff's claims.
Rec. Docs. 17, 18. Plaintiff seeks reconsideration based on
recent administrative findings, an alleged error in law, and
requests reversal of the Commissioner's final decision
with a remand for a de novo administrative hearing.
Rec. Doc. 19.
59(e) motion calls into question the correctness of a
judgment. In re Transtexas Gas Corp., 303 F.3d 571,
581 (5th Cir. 2002). Rule 59(e) serves “the narrow
purpose of allowing a party to correct manifest errors of law
or fact or to present newly discovered evidence.”
Basinkeeper v. Bostick, 663 Fed.Appx. 291, 294 (5th
Cir. 2016) (quoting Waltman v. Int'l Paper Co.,
875 F.2d 468, 473 (5th Cir. 1989)). Amending a judgment is
appropriate under Rule 59(e): “(1) where there has been
an intervening change in the controlling law; (2) where the
movant presents newly discovered evidence that was previously
unavailable; or (3) to correct a manifest error of law or
fact.” Berezowsky v. Rendon Ojeda, 652
Fed.Appx. 249, 251 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting Demahy v.
Schwarz Pharma, Inc., 702 F.3d 177, 182 (5th Cir.
2012)). Because Rule 59(e) has a “narrow purpose,
” the Fifth Circuit has “observed that
[r]econsideration of a judgment after its entry is an
extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly.”
Id. (quoting Templet v. HydroChem Inc., 367
F.3d 473, 479 (5th Cir. 2004)). Thus, “a motion for
reconsideration is not the proper vehicle for rehashing
evidence, legal theories, or arguments that could have been
offered or raised before the entry of judgment.”
Id. (quoting Templet, 367 F.3d at 479).
Finding of Disability Since September 16, 2016
Law Judge Nancy Pizzo's determination that plaintiff was
disabled since September 16, 2016 does not impact the
judgment upholding ALJ Henderson's previous finding that
plaintiff was no longer disabled as of June 11, 2014. In
reviewing a disability claim, a district Court is limited to
determining whether there is substantial evidence in the
record to support the final decision of the Commissioner as
trier of fact, and whether the Commissioner applied the
appropriate legal standards to evaluate the evidence.
Carey v. Apfel, 230 F.3d 131 (5th Cir. 2000) (citing
Brown v. Apfel, 192 F.3d 492, 496 (5th Cir. 1999)).
If the Court finds substantial evidence to support the
decision, then it must uphold the decision.
order and reasons at issue, consideration was given to ALJ
Henderson's determination that plaintiff's condition
had improved as of June 11, 2014 and he was no longer deemed
disabled on that date. There was substantial evidence in the
record to support that decision for the noted time period.
Rec. Doc. 17. Consequently, ALJ Henderson's decision was
upheld. Plaintiff asserts that ALJ Pizzo's February 20,
2019 decision that plaintiff has been disabled since
September 20, 2016 is the type of previously unavailable
evidence that warrants reconsideration of the previous order
and reasons. We welcome the invitation to review that
decision in relevant context.
Pizzo's decision found that a state agency denial of
plaintiff's claim on December 5, 2017 was consistent with
the medical record at the time of that denial. However,
following a December 3, 2018 video hearing, ALJ Pizzo
eventually found that additional evidence indicates changes
in plaintiff's spine condition, rendering the state
agency's denial unpersuasive. Based on those findings,
plaintiff was found disabled since September 16, 2016, the
amended onset date of disability. See Rec. Doc. 19-3, pgs.
to plaintiff's argument, ALJ Pizzo's decision had an
expressed application from September 16, 2016 onwards. Absent
from the decision is a finding of disability implicating an
earlier onset date of June 11, 2014 or a date prior to
September 16, 2016. The evidence suggested by plaintiff is
temporally irrelevant or, at best, not determinative of
findings at issue. It does not alter the existence of
substantial evidence in the record to support ALJ
Henderson's determination that plaintiff was no longer
disabled as of June 11, 2014.
summary, a finding of disability as of September 16, 2016
does not mean that plaintiff was also disabled as of June 11,
2014, or that ALJ Henderson's determination was not
supported by substantial evidence in the record. While
tempting to do so in this limited context, we cannot
substitute the instant judgment with the most recent ALJ
decision that fixed a new disability onset date after the
earlier claimed onset date at issue. Further, there is no
demonstrated conflict between the ALJ decisions because each
dealt with a specific time frame of claimed disability onset,
over two years apart, and with materially different factual
Manifest Error of Law
previous order and reasons, the ALJ's decision was
reviewed under the appropriate analysis applicable to
cessation of disability claims. Plaintiff asserts an
incorrect application of the five-step analysis commonly used
in Social Security claims to determine whether a claimant is
disabled, rather than the eight-step analysis to determine
whether an individual continues to be disabled. Rec. Doc.
19-2 at 4-5. While the order and reasons and the Magistrate
Judge's report and recommendation described the
five-steps used to determine whether a claimant is disabled,
some of which are also part of the eight-step analysis
applicable here, neither the order nor the Magistrate
Judge's report applied the five-step sequential analysis
to the facts of this case. Rec. Docs. 14, 17. Rather, the
order and reasons ...