Samuels v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration
ORDER adopting 18 Report and Recommendation. Signed by Honorable Patrick Michael Duffy on June 1, 2016.(jmcg, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Michael Dewayne Samuels, Jr.,
Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting
Commissioner of the Social Security
C.A. No.: 1:15-3086-PMD-SVH
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Michael Dewayne Samuels, Jr.’s
objections to United States Magistrate Judge Shiva V. Hodges’ report and recommendation
(“R & R”) (ECF Nos. 21 & 18). The Magistrate Judge recommends that the Court affirm the
Commissioner’s final decision denying Samuels’ claim for social security benefits. For the
reasons stated herein, the Court adopts the R & R and affirms the Commissioner’s decision.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court. The R & R has no
presumptive weight, and the responsibility for making a final determination remains with the
Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270–71 (1976). Parties may make written objections to
the Magistrate Judge’s proposed findings and recommendations within fourteen days after being
served with a copy of the R & R. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). This Court must conduct a de novo
review of any portion of the R & R to which a specific objection is made, and the Court may
accept, reject, or modify the Magistrate Judge’s findings and recommendations in whole or in
Additionally, the Court may recommit the matter to the Magistrate Judge with
instructions. Id. A party’s failure to object is taken as the party’s agreement with the Magistrate
Judge’s conclusions. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 151-52 (1985). Absent a timely, specific
objection—or as to those portions of the R & R to which no specific objection is made—this
Court “must ‘only satisfy itself that there is no clear error on the face of the record in order to
accept the recommendation.’” Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315
(4th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 72 advisory committee’s note).
Samuels has raised one specific objection, which the Court addresses below. First,
however, it notes that Samuels’ primary objection merely restates the argument Samuels made
before the Magistrate Judge. The Court summarily rejects that argument, as it is not a proper
objection. See, e.g., Anderson v. Dobson, 627 F. Supp. 2d 619, 623 (W.D.N.C. 2007) (“An
‘objection’ that . . . simply summarizes what has been presented before, is not an ‘objection’ as
that term is used in this context.” (citation and quotation marks omitted)).
The Court now turns to Samuels’ sole cognizable objection. Samuels contends that the
Magistrate Judge improperly considered only the evidence that supported the Administrative
Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) decision. The Court sees no such impropriety. What Samuels describes as
judicial cherry-picking is in reality a proper application of this Court’s substantial-evidence
scope of review. As another district judge put it:
In a sense, it is the district court’s job to “cherry-pick.” The court must scour the
record to determine whether there is substantial evidence to support the ALJ's
findings. This process can seem like “cherry-picking.” Yet, the fact that there are
cherries to pick reveals that the ALJ’s decision . . . is supported by “more than a
mere scintilla of evidence.”
Starcher v. Colvin, No. 1:12-01444, 2013 WL 5504494, at *6 (S.D. W. Va. Oct. 2, 2013)
(quoting Craig v. Chater, 76 F.3d 585, 589 (4th Cir. 1996)).
This Court recognizes that Samuels’ contention is an extension of his argument that the
ALJ improperly cherry-picked the record. Although it is true that ALJs may not selectively rely
on some evidence “to the exclusion of evidence favorable to the claimant,” Dowell v. Colvin, No.
1:12CV1006, 2015 WL 1524767, at *4 (M.D.N.C. Apr. 2, 2015), the ALJ did not do that here.
Rather, the ALJ’s decision shows she carefully considered all the evidence in the record.
Therefore, the Court rejects Samuels’ cherry-picking argument. Having carefully reviewed the
record and the R & R, the Court finds that the R & R accurately states the applicable law and
facts. Accordingly, the Court adopts the R & R as its opinion.
For the reasons given above, it is ORDERED that Plaintiff’s objections are
OVERRULED and that the Commissioner’s final decision is AFFIRMED.
AND IT IS SO ORDERED.
June 1, 2016
Charleston, South Carolina
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