Newell v. Colvin
DECISION & ORDER denying 21 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Hon. Marian W. Payson on 4/28/2017. (KAH)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
CHRISTINA M. NEWELL,
DECISION & ORDER
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
Plaintiff Christina M. Newell (“Newell”) brought this action pursuant to Section
205(g) of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking judicial review of a final decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income Benefits (“SSI”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties
consented to the disposition of this case by a United States magistrate judge. (Docket # 7).
Both parties filed motions for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Docket ## 12, 16). On August 30, 2016, this Court
issued a Decision and Order granting the Commissioner’s motion for judgment on the pleadings,
denying Newell’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, and dismissing Newell’s complaint
with prejudice. (Docket # 18). Currently pending before the Court is Newell’s motion for
reconsideration of that decision pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(Docket # 21). For the reasons set forth below, Newell’s motion is denied.
“The standard for granting [a motion to reconsider] is strict, and reconsideration
will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that
the court overlooked – matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the
conclusion reached by the court.” Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995)
(citations omitted). If the moving party presents no legal authority or facts that the court failed to
consider, then the motion to reconsider should be denied. Id. (“a motion to reconsider should not
be granted where the moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided”).
Newell maintains that the Court improperly concluded that the Administrative
Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) rejection of Lin’s assessed stress limitation was not supported by
substantial evidence. (Docket # 21-2 at 3). The Court discussed at length the ALJ’s rejection of
Lin’s stress-related limitations and concluded that the ALJ did not err in discounting the opinion
on the basis that it was inconsistent with Newell’s mental status examinations, which were
largely normal, and her activities of daily living. (Docket # 18 at 29). Further, the Court
concluded that the ALJ was permitted to rely upon the medical opinion of Harding, the
non-examining physician, in concluding that Newell retained the capacity to perform simple,
low-stress work requiring no more than occasional decision-making. (Id. at 30-32). In sum, the
Court determined that the ALJ’s RFC was supported by substantial evidence, and Newell has
failed to present any basis to reconsider this decision. Newell’s motion, which simply seeks to
relitigate this Court’s previous determination, is “not a proper basis for a motion for
reconsideration,” and denial of the motion is warranted. See Charter Oak Fire Ins. Co. ex rel.
Milton Fabrics, Inc. v. Nat’l Wholesale Liquidators, 2003 WL 22455321, *1 (S.D.N.Y. 2003),
aff’d, 101 F. App’x 860 (2d Cir. 2004).
In her motion, Newell maintains that this Court failed to consider controlling
authority that prohibited the ALJ from elevating his lay opinion over Lin’s professional medical
opinion regarding Newell’s stress-related limitations. (Docket ## 21-2 at 4; 26). Newell did not
raise this argument in her motion for judgment on the pleadings. (Docket ## 12-1; 23 at 3-5). A
motion for reconsideration is not the proper vehicle to litigate issues that could have been, but
were not, presented to the court on the underlying motion. Brooks v. Educ. Bus Transp., 2016
WL 3676417, *1 (E.D.N.Y. 2016) (citing Norton v. Town of Brookhaven, 47 F. Supp. 3d 152,
155 (E.D.N.Y. 2014) (“arguments raised for the first time on reconsideration are not proper
grounds for reconsideration”) and Redd v. New York State Div. of Parole, 923 F. Supp. 2d 393,
396 (E.D.N.Y. 2013) (“[a] motion for reconsideration is not intended as a vehicle for a party
dissatisfied with the [c]ourt’s ruling to advance new theories that the movant failed to advance in
connection with the underlying motion”)). In any event, although the Court did not expressly
address this argument because it was never raised, the Court explicitly considered the ALJ’s
determination to reject the stress-related limitations assessed by Lin and determined it was
supported by substantial evidence. That evidence included the medical records, Newell’s daily
activities, and Harding’s medical opinion. Thus, contrary to Newell’s argument, the ALJ did not
elevate his lay opinion over Lin’s opinion; rather, he rejected Lin’s opinion as inconsistent with
the record evidence – a determination this Court has concluded was supported by substantial
Newell’s motion for reconsideration (Docket # 21) is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Marian W. Payson
MARIAN W. PAYSON
United States Magistrate Judge
Dated: Rochester, New York
April 28, 2017
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