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Lake v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

April 14, 2014

ANDREW R. LAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

ORDER ADOPTING FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

BRIAN MORRIS, District Judge.

This action concerns the decision of Defendant Carolyn Colvin, the acting Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner), to deny Plaintiff Andrew Lake's (Lake) application.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Lake resides in Chinook, Montana. (Doc. 1 at 2.) Lake applied on April 10, 2010, for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, and supplemental security income benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (Doc. 1 at 2.) Lake alleged that he had been disabled since May 23, 2009. ( Id; doc. 20 at 2.) The Commissioner denied that application on August 12, 2010. (Doc. 1 at 2; doc. 20 at 2.)

The Administrative Law Judge conducted a hearing, at Lake's request, on March 22, 2012. (Doc. 1 at 2.) The ALJ affirmed the Commissioner's denial of Lake's application on April 6, 2012. (Doc. 1 at 3.) Lake took an appeal to the Social Security Administration Appeals Council (SSAAC) in July 2013, and the SSAAC denied Lake's request for review on November 28, 2012. (Doc. 1 at 3; doc. 20 at 2.)

Lake sought judicial review of the Commissioner's decision that Lake has severe impairments, but possesses the residual functional capacity to work. (Doc. 1.) United States Magistrate Judge Keith Strong entered his Findings and Recommendation on March 25, 2014. (Doc. 20.) Judge Strong recommended that the Court deny Lake's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 12), and grant the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 16.)

Lake has objected to Judge Strong's findings and recommendations. (Doc. 21.) The Commissioner has replied to Lake's objections. (Doc. 22.) Title 28, Section 636(b)(1) of the United States Code entitles an objecting party to review de novo of the findings and recommendations to which they object. The Court will review for clear error all other findings and recommendations. McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981). The Court adopts Judge Strong's findings and recommendations in full for the reasons discussed.

JURISDICTION

Chinook, Montana lies within the Great Falls Division of the District of Montana. Lake correctly brought suit in this District. 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g).

ANALYSIS

The Court adopts by reference the factual background as enumerated in Judge Strong's findings and recommendations. It is well established that the Court's review of a decision granting or denying Social Security disability benefits is deferential. Hiler v. Astrue, 687 F.3d 1208 (9th Cir. 2012). If the record as a whole reasonably can support either affirmance or reversal of the Commissioner of Social Security's decision, the Court must affirm. Id. The Court will review each of Lake's objections in turn.

Lake first argues that "the uncontested findings of fact preclude [Judge Strong]'s findings and recommended decision and require summary judgment" in Lake's favor. (Doc. 21 at 2.) Lake fails to identify, however, any specific facts that that preclude Judge Strong's findings and recommendations to this Court. (Doc. 21 at 2.) Despite Lake's failure, the Court has reviewed Lake's proposed uncontested findings of fact. (Doc. 14.) No conflict exists between the conclusions that Lake's proposed uncontested findings of fact espouse, (doc. 14 at 1-4), and those factual conclusions that Judge Strong made. (Doc. 20 at 5-6.) As no conflict exists between Judge Strong's findings and Lake's proposed uncontested findings of fact, Lake has failed to identify any error in Judge Strong's findings of fact. Lake's proposed uncontested findings of fact fail to require as matter of law, therefore, summary judgment in Lake's favor.

Lake further argues that Judge Strong failed to consider the ALJ's "failure to consider carpal tunnel syndrome, " a severe impairment. (Doc. 21 at 2.) Judge Strong considered at length, however, every argument that Lake raised in his brief in support of Lake's motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 13.) In that brief, Lake failed to argue the ALJ's determination that carpal tunnel syndrome did not constitute a severe impairment. ( See generally Doc. 13.) Lake alleged only that "Dr. Nemes diagnosed Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, " (doc. 13 at 11, 20), that "Andrew testified the carpal tunnel symptoms bothers him two or three days a week, " (doc. 13 at 11), and that "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome was found to not be a severe impairment." (Doc. 13 at 16.)

This Court has no obligation to consider evidence and claims presented for the first time in a party's objection to a magistrate judge's findings and recommendations. Brown v. Roe, 279 F.3d 742, 744 (9th Cir.2002); United States v. Howell, 231 F.3d 615, 621-22 (9th Cir.2000). The specific factual objection that Lake now brings unquestionably was evident before the magistrate judge's proceedings ever began. Nothing excuses Lake's delay in raising this argument. The party who fails to raise arguments in a timely fashion will not receive the ...


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