Harris v. Social Security
OPINION & ORDER Adopting Report and Recommendation 21 granting deft's motion for summary judgment 12 and denying pltf's motion for summary judgment 10 . Case dismissed. Signed by District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds. (CBet)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
JAMES R. HARRIS,
Case No. 15-13435
Honorable Nancy G. Edmunds
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
OPINION AND ORDER ACCEPTING AND ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION 
Plaintiff James Harris seeks review of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's
determination that he is not entitled to social security benefits. The Court referred the
matter to Magistrate Judge Anthony Patti, and on December 20, 2016, the Magistrate
Judge issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) that the Court affirm Defendant's
decision. On January 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed five objections to the R&R (Dkt. 22), which the
Court considers here. For the reasons stated below, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections and ACCEPTS AND ADOPTS the R&R. As a result, Defendant's motion for
summary judgment is GRANTED , Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED
, Defendant's decision is AFFIRMED, and the case is DISMISSED.
Standard of Review
When a party objects to portions of a magistrate judge's report and recommendation
on a dispositive motion, the Court reviews such portions de novo. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b).
However, only specific objections that pinpoint a source of error are entitled to de novo
review. Mira v. Marshall, 806 F.2d 636, 637 (6th Cir. 1986). General objections, or those
that merely challenge the magistrate judge's ultimate determinations, have "the same
effects as would a failure to object." Howard v. Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 932
F.2d 505, 509 (6th Cir. 1991). That is, such objections are invalid, and the Court may treat
them as if they were waived. See Bellmore-Byrne v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2016 WL
5219541, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 22, 2016) (citing id.).
As a preliminary matter, the Court overrules Plaintiff's objections as untimely. The
R&R directed Plaintiff to file his objections within fourteen days of service of the R&R, which
is the period provided for in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(2) and Local Rule
72.1(d). Plaintiff failed to file within those fourteen days. Therefore, the Court finds that
Plaintiff failed to preserve his objections, and it overrules them on that ground.
Even if Plaintiff had timely filed his objections, the Court would overrule them on other
grounds. Plaintiff's first objection challenges "the findings and conclusions" that Plaintiff
has "been unable to point to any portion of the record in this case to establish that [Plaintiff]
met the criteria for blindness under Listing 2.03A on or before December 31, 2006 based
upon testing methods approved by the SSA." (Dkt. 22, at 1.) In other words, Plaintiff
contests the Magistrate Judge's overall conclusion regarding the merits of his case. Given
that such an argument constitutes a general objection, the Court could and would treat it
as waived. Howard, 932 F.2d at 509.
Second, Plaintiff objects "to the failure of the Report and Recommendation, at pages
18-27, to accord adequate weight and deference to the [treating physicians.]" (Dkt. 22, at
3.) Like the first objection, this objection merely challenges the Magistrate Judge's ultimate
weighing of the evidence, so the Court would treat this objection as waived. Howard, 932
F.2d at 509; see also Ervin v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2012 WL 4427987, at *1 (E.D. Mich.
Sept. 25, 2012) (overruling a plaintiff's objections where they "essentially dispute[d] the
ALJ's weighing of the evidence and object[ed] to the Magistrate Judge's failure to adopt
Plaintiff's views in that regard.").
Third, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's assumption that the record before the
ALJ was complete. (Dkt. 22, at 4.) But Plaintiff also concedes: "[I]t is true that we have not
asserted missing records as a basis for this appeal[.]" (Id.) Therefore, if Plaintiff had timely
filed his objections, the Court would find that Plaintiff failed to raise this issue properly. The
Sixth Circuit has stated: "[A]bsent compelling reasons, [the Magistrate Judge Act] does not
allow parties to raise at the district court stage new arguments or issues that were not
presented to the magistrate." Murr v. United States, 200 F.3d 895, 902 n.1 (6th Cir. 2000);
see also Swain v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 379 F. App'x 512, 517-18 (6th Cir. 2010). Here,
the Court can identify no compelling reasons for considering this argument at so late a
stage, so it would overrule Plaintiff's third objection as impermissibly raised. United States
v. Waters, 158 F.3d 933, 936 (6th Cir. 1998) (finding "apparent waiver" where issue was
raised for the first time in objection to a report and recommendation).
Fourth, Plaintiff objects to the Magistrate Judge's "dismissal of Dr. Herndon's records
and opinions over the period July 18 - October 19, 2006 ... because of 'their proximity in
time to Plaintiff's date last insured ... December 31, 2006.'" (Dkt. 22, at 5.) The Court
believes that this objection misconstrues the R&R and, therefore, lacks merit. The R&R
does not "dismiss" Dr. Herndon's 2006 materials because of their proximity to December
31, 2006. Instead, it concludes that the ALJ "permissibly credited (or discredited)" these
notes "on the basis of their proximity in time to Plaintiff's date last insured and the other
factors identified above." (Dkt. 21, at 24.) The Court would accordingly overrule this
objection for failing to pinpoint an error in the R&R.
Finally, Plaintiff objects to the "statements ... concerning the denial of due process at
the June 17, 2013 ALJ hearing," and he invites this Court to "tell" him whether due process
was frustrated. (Dkt. 22, at 5.)
Like Plaintiff's third objection, this objection was not
properly raised before the Magistrate Judge, so the Court would treat this objection as
waived. Murr, 200 F.3d at 902 n.1; Fielder v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2014 WL 1207865, at
*1 (E.D. Mich. Mar. 24, 2014) ("[T]he Court declines to address an issue that was not
properly and meaningfully presented for initial consideration by the Magistrate Judge.").
For the foregoing reasons, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's objections and
ACCEPTS AND ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's R&R. Accordingly, Defendant's motion
for summary judgment is GRANTED, Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED,
Defendant's decision is AFFIRMED, and this case is DISMISSED.
s/Nancy G. Edmunds
Nancy G. Edmunds
United States District Judge
Dated: January 24, 2017
I hereby certify that a copy of the foregoing document was served upon counsel of record
on January 24, 2017, by electronic and/or ordinary mail.
s/Carol J. Bethel
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?