Vang v. Astrue
ORDER adopting Report and Recommendation 15 ; denying 9 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting 12 Motion for Summary Judgment. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT: 1. Plaintiff Chong Vang's motion for summary judgment 9 is DENIED. 2. Defendan t's motion for summary judgment 12 is GRANTED. 3. Plaintiff's complaint 1 is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE AND ON THE MERITS. LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY. (Written Opinion). Signed by Judge Patrick J. Schiltz on March 20, 2013. (clg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MINNESOTA
Case No. 11-CV-3351 (PJS/JSM)
ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Laura S. Melnick, SOUTHERN MINNESOTA REGIONAL LEGAL SERVICES, INC.,
Ana H. Voss and David W. Fuller, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY’S OFFICE, for
This matter is before the Court on plaintiff Chong Vang’s objection to the February 11,
2013 Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron. Judge
Mayeron recommends granting defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denying Vang’s
motion for summary judgment. The Court has conducted a de novo review. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Based on that review, the Court adopts Judge Mayeron’s
R&R. Only two issues merit comment:
First, Vang objects that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) gave insufficient weight
to the opinion of her treating psychotherapist, Dr. Jonathan Hoistad. A treating doctor’s opinion
“is afforded less deference when the medical evidence in the record as a whole contradicts the
opinion itself.” Haggard v. Apfel, 175 F.3d 591, 595 (8th Cir. 1999). As explained in the R&R,
Michael J. Astrue was the Commissioner of Social Security and the named defendant at
the time this case was filed. On February 14, 2013, Carolyn W. Colvin became the Acting
Commissioner of Social Security. Colvin subsequently replaced Astrue as the named defendant
in this matter.
Hoistad’s conclusions about the severity of Vang’s depression and the scope of her work
limitations are often undercut by other evidence in the record, including Hoistad’s own treatment
notes. Under those circumstances, it was reasonable for the ALJ to give only limited weight to
Second, Vang argues that both the ALJ and the R&R placed undue weight on the opinion
of Dr. Karen Butler, who did not treat or examine Vang. But Butler’s opinions were not the sole
basis for any of the ALJ’s findings; the R&R describes other evidence in the record supporting
each of those findings.
This is a close case. Reasonable ALJs could disagree about whether Vang is disabled,
and reasonable judges could disagree about whether the ALJ’s decision in this case is supported
by substantial evidence on the record as a whole. Having closely examined the record and Judge
Mayeron’s careful and thorough R&R, the Court concludes that the ALJ’s decision “‘falls within
the available zone of choice.’” Buckner v. Astrue, 646 F.3d 549, 556 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Bradley v. Astrue, 528 F.3d 1113, 1115 (8th Cir. 2008)).
Based on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and proceedings herein, the Court
ADOPTS the R&R [ECF No. 15]. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
Plaintiff Chong Vang’s motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 9] is DENIED.
Defendant’s motion for summary judgment [ECF No. 12] is GRANTED.
Plaintiff’s complaint [ECF No. 1] is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE AND ON
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.
Dated: March 20, 2013
s/Patrick J. Schiltz
Patrick J. Schiltz
United States District Judge
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