Love v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER For reasons noted within, the Commissioner's motion to alter or amend (Doc. 18) is respectfully DENIED. Signed by Judge William M Acker, Jr on 3/11/16. (SAC )
2016 Mar-11 PM 04:29
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social
CIVIL ACTION NO.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On February 24, 2016, the court reversed the Commissioner’s
decision denying plaintiff’s claim for disability benefits. The
court remanded the action for the singular purpose of awarding
benefits. On March 10, 2016, the Commissioner filed a motion under
Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) to alter or amend the judgment, (Doc. 18),
arguing that the court should have remanded the action to the
Commissioner for further consideration and not for an award of
benefits. The Commissioner only sought an affirmance of her denial
decision and never suggested a remand for further consideration for
any reason. The Commissioner now contends that the court improperly
relied on published Eleventh Circuit cases that violate that
court’s prior panel precedent rule, as recognized in unpublished
Eleventh Circuit cases.
For at least two reasons, the Commissioner’s Rule 59(e) motion
will be denied. First and foremost, the Commissioner’s argument
relitigate old matters, raise argument or present evidence that
could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment.” Michael
Linet, Inc. v. Wellington, Fla., 408 F.3d 757, 763 (11th Cir.
2005). All of the cases cited in the Commissioner’s present motion
predate the brief she filed in this case in defense of plaintiff’s
benefits claim, and plaintiff plainly put the Commissioner on
notice of the issue now being raised for the first time by the
Commissioner by discussing it in her initial brief. (Doc. 11 at
20). The Commissioner’s argument, therefore, could and should have
been made prior to the entry of judgment. The Commissioner was
asleep at the switch. The court is not obligated to act as the
advocate for a sleepy litigant. To the contrary, to help one side
is entirely inappropriate behavior for a judicial officer.
Second, the Commissioner’s requested relief calls upon this
court to ignore Eleventh Circuit published opinions in favor of
Eleventh Circuit unpublished opinions. This oddity does not appeal
to this court. See Bonilla v. Baker Concrete Const., Inc., 487 F.3d
1340, 1345 n.7 (11th Cir. 2007) (“Unpublished opinions are not
controlling authority and are persuasive only insofar as their
legal analysis warrants.”). If requested to do so, the Eleventh
Circuit may find some strange new path around the Commissioner’s
failure to raise this issue before the entry of final judgment, but
this court fails to see how the Eleventh Circuit can overlook the
effect of Rule 59(e) to foreclose post-judgment consideration of an
issue that could otherwise have colorable merit.
The Commissioner’s motion to alter or amend (Doc. 18) is
DONE this 11th day of March, 2016.
WILLIAM M. ACKER, JR.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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