United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING IN PART AND REJECTING IN PART THE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [DKT. NO. 25], GRANTING THE
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [DKT. NO. 14],
AND DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
[DKT. NO. 23]
M. KEELEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 17, 2017, the plaintiff, Daphnie Campbell
(“Campbell”), filed a complaint against the
defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) (Dkt. No. 1), seeking review of
the Commissioner's final decision denying her
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). After the parties filed cross motions
for summary judgment, Magistrate Judge Michael J. Aloi issued
a Report and Recommendation (“R&R”),
recommending that the Court deny Campbell's motion and
grant the Commissioner's motion, finding that the
Commissioner's decision denying Campbell's
applications was supported by substantial evidence (Dkt. No.
25). For the reasons that follow, the Court ADOPTS IN
PART AND REJECTS IN PART the
R&R (Dkt. No. 25), GRANTS Campbell's
motion (Dkt. No. 14), and DENIES the
Commissioner's motion (Dkt. No. 23).
Campbell's Motion for Summary Judgment
April 2, 2018, Campbell filed a motion for summary judgment,
arguing that the Commissioner's final decision denying
her applications for DIB and SSI is not supported by
substantial evidence (Dkt. Nos. 14, 15). Campbell contends
that (1) the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
erroneously evaluated her subjective complaints, and (2) the
decision was not sufficiently particularized to provide for
meaningful review (Dkt. No. 15 at 4-6). Campbell also
contends that the ALJ erroneously assessed her residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) by failing to
consider the combined effect of her alleged impairments, and
by erroneously exercising an expertise in neurology.
Id. at 6-9. Finally, Campbell asserts that the ALJ
improperly discounted the opinion of Campbell's treating
physician, Edward Thompson, M.D. Id. at 10-12.
Commissioner's Motion for Summary Judgment
Commissioner's motion for summary judgment contends that
the ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence
(Dkt. Nos. 23, 24). In support, the Commissioner submits that
the ALJ properly evaluated Campbell's subjective
complaints against the medical evidence of record (Dkt. No.
24), and appropriately assessed Campbell's RFC by
considering the effects of her physical and mental
impairments and by discounting Dr. Thompson's opinion.
Id. 8-9. The Commissioner did not respond to
Campbell's argument that the ALJ exercised an expertise
she did not possess. See generally id.
Report and Recommendation
R&R filed on January 7, 2019, Magistrate Judge Aloi
concluded that the ALJ had properly weighed Campbell's
subjective complaints against the medical evidence of record
and appropriately accorded little weight to the statement of
Dr. Thompson, Campbell's treating physician (Dkt. No. 25
at 29-39). He next concluded that it was harmless error for
the ALJ to have exercised an expertise in neurology she did
not possess. Id. at 39. Finally, he reasoned that
the ALJ had properly weighed the medical evidence when
determining whether Campbell's impairments were severe.
Id. at 39-41.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
reviewing a magistrate judge's R&R, the Court must
review de novo only the portions to which an
objection is timely made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). On
the other hand, “the Court may adopt, without
explanation, any of the magistrate judge's
recommendations to which the prisoner does not object.”
Dellacirprete v. Gutierrez, 479 F.Supp.2d 600,
603-04 (N.D. W.Va. 2007) (citing Camby v. Davis, 718
F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983)). Courts will uphold those
portions of a recommendation to which no objection has been
made unless they are “clearly erroneous.” See
Diamond v. Colonial Life & Accident Ins. Co., 416
F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir. 2005).
judgment is appropriate only “if the pleadings,
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on
file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). When ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, the Court reviews all the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Miller,
913 F.2d at 1087. The Court must avoid weighing the evidence
or determining its truth and ...