United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Huntington Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C."CHAMBERS, CHIEF JUDGE.
before the Court is Claimant's objections to the
Magistrate's Proposed Findings and Recommendations
("PF&R") affirming the Social Security
Administration's decision to deny Claimant's
application for disability benefits. ECF No. 14. Defendant,
the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, filed
a Response to Claimant's objections, urging the Court to
adopt the Magistrate's PF&R. For the following
reasons the Court rejects Claimants objection and
ADOPTS the PF&R.
Plaintiff, Timothy Earl Dailey ("Claimant"), filed
his application for disability benefits on June 18, 2013,
alleging a disability since September 15, 2008 due to back
and neck issues. His initial claims were denied on September
5, 2013 and again on reconsideration on November 12, 2013.
Claimant requested an administrative hearing and one was held
on June 23, 2015. On July 2, 2015, the administrative law
judge ("ALT') entered a decision finding that
Claimant was not disabled anytime from September 15, 2008 up
to the date of the decision. The ALJ's decision became
final on September 15, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied
November 10, 2016, Claimant applied to this Court, seeking
judicial review of the administrative decision.
Claimant's case was referred to the Magistrate. On May 1,
2017, the Magistrate rendered his decision recommending that
this Court affirm the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration. Seemingly unbeknownst to
the Magistrate, on November 15, 2016, Claimant filed a
subsequent application for disability benefits based on the
same back and neck issues, albeit with additional medical
records. On April 12, 2017, approximately three weeks before
the Magistrate issued his decision, Claimant was awarded
disability benefits. The Social Security Administration
determined that Claimant was eligible for benefits starting
in November 2016, sixteen months after his initial claim was
denied by the ALJ. The record before the Court bears no sign
that Claimant ever informed the Magistrate of any of the
later medical records produced after Claimant's request
for judicial review or his disability award.
now objects to the Magistrate's recommendation because
the later finding that Claimant has been disabled due to back
and neck issues since November 2016 casts doubt on the
ALJ's decision to reject his first application. Claimant
requests a de novo review of the record by this Court and a
reversal and remand to the ALJ to make another determination
in light of his newly awarded benefits.
Federal Magistrates Act, 28 U.S.C. § 636, defines the
relationship between magistrate judges and district court
judges. District court judges "may designate a
magistrate judge to conduct hearings . . . and to submit to a
judge of the court proposed findings of fact and
recommendations for the disposition, by a judge of the court,
of any [judgment on the pleadings] . . . ." 28 U.S.C.
636(b)(1)(B). If a party objects to a portion of the
magistrate's report and recommendation within fourteen
days, "[a] judge of the court shall make a de novo
determination of those portions of the report... to which
objection is made. The judge may also receive further
evidence or recommit the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions." § 636(b)(1)(C).
Fourth Circuit interpreted the Magistrates Act to require a
district court to consider de novo "any issue
to which proper objection is made . . . regardless of whether
[the arguments supporting the objection] were raised before
the magistrate." United States v. George, 971
F.2d 1113, 1118 (4th Cir. 1992). It grounded its decision on
the meaning of'We novo determination" in
the Magistrates Act and a suspicion that a categorical waiver
of arguments not raised before the magistrate may render the
district court's decision vulnerable to constitutional
attack. George, 971 F.2d at 1118 (citing United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 683 (1980) (holding
that "delegation" to a magistrate "does not
violate Art. Ill. so long as the ultimate decision is
made by the district court" (emphasis added)).
other Circuit has adopted the Fourth Circuit's approach,
and none share its anxiety over the constitutional validity
of waiver. The First and Tenth Circuits have categorically
restricted district courts from hearing arguments not raised
before the magistrate. Paterson-Leitch Co. v. Mass. Mun.
Wholesale Elec. Co., 840 F.2d 985, 990-91 (1st Cir.
1988) (finding a party is not entitled to review of an
argument not raised before the magistrate); Marshall v.
Chater, 75 F.3d 1421, 1426 (10th Cir. 1996) (same).
While the Eleventh, Ninth, Eighth, Sixth, and Fifth Circuits
have endorsed a district judge's discretionary review of
arguments not raised before the magistrate. United States
v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 621 (9th Cir. 2000) (finding a
district court "is not required to consider evidence
presented for the first time in party's objection to the
magistrate judge's recommendation"); Williams v.
McNeil, 557 F.3d 1287, 1292 (11th Cir. 2009) (finding
the district had the discretion to consider arguments not
raised before the magistrate); Madol v. Dan Nelson Auto
Grp., 372 F.3d 997 (8th Cir. 2004) (finding arguments
not raised before the magistrate may be waived); Murr v.
United States, 200 F.3d 895, 902 n. 1 (6th Cir. 2000)
(same); Cupit v. Whitley, 28 F.3d 532, 535 n. 5 (5th
Cir. 1994) (same). The primary concern of these Circuits is
the preservation of the purpose of the magistrate judge
system. The Ninth Circuit aptly observed that "allowing
parties to litigate fully their case before the magistrate
and, if unsuccessful, to change their strategy and present a
different theory to the district court would frustrate the
purpose of the Magistrates Act." Greenhow v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Servs., 863 F.2d 633, 638
(9th Cir. 1988).
Ninth Circuit also noted that the Supreme Court suggested
that a district court has no obligation to consider evidence
not presented to the magistrate. Howell, 231 F.3d at
622. In Raddatz, the same decision on which the
Fourth Circuit relies for its holding incidentally, the
Supreme Court explained "in providing for a 'de
novo determination' rather than de novo
hearing, Congress intended to permit whatever reliance a
district judge, in the exercise of sound judicial discretion,
chose to place on a magistrates judge's proposed findings
and recommendations." Raddatz, 447 U.S. at 676.
The Ninth Circuit interpreted the Supreme Court's
decision, along with the Magistrates Act,  to require a
district court to make a de novo determination of
the portions of the magistrate's recommendation that drew
an objection, but in making that determination the district
court may exercise discretion to accept new evidence.
Howell, 231 F.3d at 622.
in this District have distinguished the Fourth Circuit's
holding in George to apply only to arguments not
made before the magistrate but directed at claims brought
before the magistrate-not to issues never addressed by the
magistrate. Boothe v. Ballard, No. 2:14-cv-25165,
2016 WL 1275054, at *20 n. 8 (S.D. W.Va. Mar. 31, 2016);
Samples v. Ballard, No. 2:14- cv-15413, 2016 WL
1271508, at *19 (S.D. W.Va. Mar. 31, 2016) ("In so
finding, the Fourth Circuit did not express any intent to
extend its holding to cases . . . where the arguments raised
in the objections went to an issue not before the
magistrate judge." (emphasis in original)). In light of
the unanimity of the Fourth Circuit's sister circuits,
Judge Johnston was skeptical that the Fourth Circuit intended
its holding in George to apply to situations where a
party attempts to raise a new claim in an objection to the
magistrate's recommendation, and accordingly found that
George did not apply to such a case.
Samples, 2016 WL 1271508, at *19.
weight of authority, including the Raddatz decision
and the Magistrates Act, counsel the use of discretion by the
district court to consider new claims or new evidence not
presented to the magistrate. A discretionary standard
preserves the function and purpose of the magistrate system.
It avoids reducing the magistrate's role to "a mere
dress rehearsal, " Paterson-Leitch Co., 840
F.2d at 991, and alleviates the constitutional concerns that
animated the George decision.
back to the case at hand, Claimant's objection is not
based on any issue raised before the magistrate. It is what
can best be described as a collateral attack on the denial of
his first application for benefits. To support his objection,
Claimant presents the Court with new medical records and
raises a new claim that because he was eventually awarded
benefits for the same medical issues, the initial denial of
benefits should be revisited. Claimant's medical records
and new claim could have been presented to the magistrate
before he rendered his decision but Claimant has made no
attempt to explain why they were not. The medical records
date from November 2016 and February 2017. The Commission
approved Claimant's subsequent application for benefits
on April 12, 2017. The magistrate did not render his decision
until May 1, 2017. Without some explanation for why this
issue was not presented to the magistrate for consideration
when it clearly could have been, the Court declines to
consider Claimant's objection.
the Court REJECTS Claimant's objection, and ADOPTS the
PF&R in all its respects. Defendant's Motion for
Judgment on the Pleadings is GRANTED. ECF No. 13.
Claimant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is
DENIED. ECF No. 12. The final decision ...