United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
CHARLES A. GUTIERREZ, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
MORRIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
Charles Alan Gutierrez filed an application for social
security disability benefits on December 3, 2015. (Doc. 5 at
217-18.) The administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
concluded that Gutierrez did not qualify for disability or
disability insurance benefits on June 7, 2017. Id.
at 26. The Social Security Administration
(“Administration”) denied Gutierrez's request
to have the Administration review the ALJ's decision.
Id. at 1-3, 102. Gutierrez filed the instant action
on November 28, 2017. (Doc. 1.)
filed a Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (Doc. 9) on April
27, 2018. United States Magistrate Judge John Johnston
entered Findings and Recommendations regarding the instant
motion on March 1, 2019. (Doc. 28.) Judge Johnston ultimately
recommended that the Court deny Gutierrez's Motion for
Partial Summary Judgment and affirm the Acting Commissioner
of Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”)'s decision to deny benefits
to Gutierrez. Id. at 16. Gutierrez timely filed
objections to Judge Johnston's Findings and
Recommendations on March 15, 2019. (Doc. 29.) Because the
parties are familiar with the facts, the Court will not
recite them here.
Court reviews de novo Findings and Recommendations to which a
party timely objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). “A
party makes a proper objection by identifying the parts of
the magistrate's disposition that the party finds
objectionable, and presenting legal argument and supporting
authority, such that the district court is able to identify
the issues and the reasons supporting a contrary
result.” Montana Shooting Sports Ass'n v.
Holder, 2010 WL 4102940, at *2 (D. Mont. Oct. 18, 2010)
(citation omitted). The Court reviews for clear error
findings and recommendations to which no party objects.
McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach.,
Inc., 656 F.2d 1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981).
party's objections constitute perfunctory responses
argued in an attempt to engage the district court in a
rehashing of the same arguments set forth in the original
response the Court likewise will review the applicable
portions of the findings and recommendations for clear error.
Rosling v. Kirkegard, 2014 WL 693315 *3 (D. Mont.
Feb. 21, 2014) (internal citations omitted). Clear error
exists if the Court is left with a “definite and firm
conviction that a mistake has been committed.”
United States v. Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir.
2000) (citations omitted).
submitted seven objections to Judge Johnston's Findings
and Recommendations. (Doc. 29 at 1-8.) Gutierrez contends (1)
that there is no support in the record that Gutierrez has
been diagnosed with alcohol addiction; (2) that the
conclusion that Gutierrez's TBI is “mild”
proves contrary to the opinion of the treating psychologist;
(3) that the ALJ gave “short shrift” to its
analysis before rejecting the Veteran Affair's disability
decision; (4) that Judge Johnston erred in determining that
medical evidence contradicted the opinion of Gutierrez's
treating psychologist; (5) that substantial evidence exists
that does not support Judge Johnston's conclusion that
Gutierrez's daily activities were not limited; (6) that
the hypotheticals posted by the ALJ to the vocational expert
have no evidentiary value; and (7) that Gutierrez did not
waive his right to attack the ALJ's appointment on
review. Id. That Court will address each objection
contends that the record does not support the determination
that Gutierrez suffers from an alcohol addiction. (Doc. 29 at
2.) Judge Johnston does not rely in his Findings and
Recommendations on the ALJ's determination that Gutierrez
suffers from an alcohol addiction. See (Doc. 28 at
1-17.) Judge Johnston merely recites the ALJ's
determination that “Gutierrez possessed the following
severe impairments: depression, PTSD, and alcohol
addiction.” (Doc. 28 at 5.) The Court overrules
Determination that Gutierrez's TBI is
Johnston determined that the “ALJ reasonably concluded
that Gutierrez's traumatic brain injury was not
severe.” Id. Judge Johnston reasoned that the
“MRI of Gutierrez's brain in April 2012 showed
abnormalities indicative of a mild brain injury.” (Doc.
28 at 9.) Judge Johnston further explained that Dr. Robert
Bateen, the examining psychologist in this case, noted that
“Gutierrez's brain injury had no impact on his
ability to work.” Id. Gutierrez claims that
Judge Johnston concluding that medical evidence supports a
determination that Gutierrez's TBI was “mild”
proves contrary to the opinion of Gutierrez's treating
physician. (Doc. 29 at 2.)
fails to provide legal authority in support of his objection.
The Court remains unable to decipher Gutierrez's
supporting reasons that Judge Johnston reached a contrary
result in his Findings and Recommendations. Gutierrez's
objection to this portion of Judge Johnston's Findings
and Recommendations proves improper. See Montana Shooting
Sports Ass'n, 2010 WL 4102940, at 2. The Court will
review for clear error ...