Muratovic v. Berryhill
MEMORANDUM Opinion and Order: Signed by the Honorable M. David Weisman on 1/12/2018. Mailed notice (ao,)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
No. 17 C 2368
Magistrate Judge M. David Weisman
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On November 1, 2017, the Court entered judgment in plaintiff’s favor on his appeal from
defendant’s denial of his application for Social Security benefits. (See 11/1/17 J., ECF 18.)
Defendant has filed a motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (“Rule”) 59(e) to
amend the judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies the motion.
A Rule 59 motion “performs a valuable function where the Court has patently
misunderstood a party, or has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the
Court by the parties, or has made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension.” Bank of
Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990) (citing Above the
Belt, Inc. v. Mel Bohannon Roofing, Inc., 99 F.R.D. 99, 1010 (E.D. Va. 1983)). “Such problems
rarely arise[,] and . . . motion[s] to reconsider should be equally rare.” Id.
Defendant contends that this is one of the rare occasions on which reconsideration is
appropriate because the Court reweighed the evidence rather than giving the ALJ’s decision the
deference it is due. (Mot. Alter Amend J. at 2, ECF 19); see Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 673
(7th Cir. 2008) (“We deferentially review the ALJ’s factual determinations and affirm the ALJ if
the decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record.”); White v. Sullivan, 965 F.2d
133, 136 (7th Cir. 1992) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)) (stating that
“substantial evidence” is “‘such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate
to support a conclusion.’”). The Court disagrees.
The ALJ rejected treating physician Fayyaz’s opinion as “inconsistent” with: (1) “intact
mental status exams and all treatment notes”; (2) plaintiff’s “demonstrated ability to work for a
significant period of time”; and (3) his lack of difficulty with “interpersonal relationships.” (R.
34.) First, as the Court previously explained, Dr. Fayyaz’s treatment notes are consistent with
his opinions. (See 11/1/17 Mem. Op. & Order, ECF 17 at 4.) Moreover, the treatment notes of
other physicians that the ALJ cited were from physical, not mental, examinations and thus were
not “intact mental status exams,” as the ALJ asserted. (See, e.g., R. 429-41, 445-47.) Second, as
the Court previously noted, the record shows that plaintiff worked for a significant period of time
before the onset date of his disability, a fact that sheds no light on his ability to work after the
onset date. (See 11/1/17 Mem. Op. & Order, ECF 17 at 4.) Finally, as the Court noted, the only
interpersonal relationships the record reveals plaintiff to have are with his wife and son, and the
ALJ cited no evidence for her assertion that plaintiff has no difficulties with those relationships.
In short, the ALJ rejected Dr. Fayyaz’s opinions by: (1) ignoring the bulk of his treatment notes;
(2) cherry-picking observations of plaintiff’s mental state made by doctors who were addressing
plaintiff’s physical, not psychological, complaints; (3) relying on plaintiff’s pre-onset work
history; and (4) making an unsupported assertion about the quality of his relationships with his
The Court respectfully disagrees with defendant’s assertion that the Court reweighed the
evidence considered by the ALJ. We believe that our review was deferential, as is required. Our
concern is that the ALJ ignored medical evidence that did not support her conclusion, failed to
demonstrate a connection between plaintiff’s pre-onset employment history and his post-onset
symptomology, and asserted facts about his personal relationships that had no apparent support
in the record, none of which is permissible. See Moon v. Colvin, 763 F.3d 718, 721 (7th Cir.
2014) (“[T]he ALJ must identify the relevant evidence and build a ‘logical bridge’ between that
evidence and the ultimate determination.”) (citing Moore v. Colvin, 743 F.3d 1118, 1121 (7th
Cir. 2014)); Denton v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 2010) (per curiam) (“An ALJ has the
obligation to consider all relevant medical evidence and cannot simply cherry-pick facts that
support a finding of non-disability while ignoring evidence that points to a disability finding.”)
(citing Myles v. Astrue, 582 F.3d 672, 678 (7th Cir. 2009)).
In short, even under a deferential standard of review, the ALJ’s decision cannot be
For the reasons set forth above, the Court denies defendant’s motion to alter or amend the
ENTERED: January 12, 2018
M. David Weisman
United States Magistrate Judge
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