United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville
BRAD H. DUNLAP, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
Magistrate Judge Poplin
S. MATTICE, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 19, 2018, the United States Magistrate Judge assigned
to this case filed a Report and Recommendation (Doc. 22)
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 72(b). The Magistrate Judge recommended that:
(1) Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 14) be
denied; (2) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc.
18) be granted; and (3) the decision of the Commissioner be
affirmed. (Doc. 22 at 23).
filed timely objections to the Magistrate Judge's Report
and Recommendation (Doc. 23). He presents a wide array of
arguments, including: (1) that the medical opinion of Dr.
Redmon, Plaintiff's treating physician, regarding the
nature and extent of Plaintiff's pain should have
resulted in a finding of disability; (2) that Dr.
Redmon's opinion that Plaintiff could not perform
full-time work was well-supported and should have been
afforded greater weight; (3) that the ALJ improperly relied
on the opinion of Dr. Hunt, who did not examine all of
Plaintiff's medical records and “misread”
Plaintiff's MRI; (4) the ALJ improperly denied
Plaintiff's subpoena request as to Dr. Hunt; (5) the ALJ
and Magistrate Judge failed to analyze the impact and side
effects of Plaintiff's pain medication; (6) the
Magistrate improperly relied on the Sixth Circuit's
decision of a prior social security appeal filed by
Plaintiff; and (7) the Magistrate Judge improperly concluded
that the report from Dr. Maccree was not a medical opinion.
(Doc. 23). The Court reviews Plaintiff's objections
de novo. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(3).
Court has conducted a review of the Report and
Recommendation, as well as the record, and it agrees with the
Magistrate Judge's well-reasoned conclusions for the
reasons stated herein.
Opinion of Dr. Redmon Regarding Plaintiff's Pain
outlined above, Plaintiff's treating physician Dr. Redmon
opined: “[Plaintiff] has a medical condition, confirmed
by MRI and EMG/NCV that could reasonably be expected to
produce severe pain.” (Doc. 13-4 at 71). According to
Plaintiff, if he has a medical condition confirmed by
objective medical evidence that may reasonably be expected to
produce severe pain, he must be found disabled. (Doc. 23 at
2). Plaintiff cites Duncan v. Secretary, 801 F.2d
847, 853 (6th Cir. 1986), in support of this argument.
Plaintiff's recitation of the rule set forth in
Duncan is correct, its application to the facts of
this case do not warrant a finding that he is disabled. The
Magistrate Judge addressed the ALJ's consideration of Dr.
Redmon's opinion in this respect, and concluded that Dr.
Redmon's conclusions regarding the severity of
Plaintiff's pain did not find support in the record as a
whole. (Doc. 22 at 13-14). As explained by the Magistrate
Judge, Redmon's own treatment notes revealed that
Plaintiff's pain improved significantly in response to
oral medication and injections. See Burney v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., 2013 WL 1289310, at *3 (E.D. Mich. Mar.
28, 2013) (citing Pasco v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
137 Fed. App'x. 828, 836 (6th Cir. 2005))
(“Notably, impairments that are controlled by
medication are not disabling.”). He also noted that
Plaintiff “appeared in no acute distress, his symptoms
were stable, and his gait improved.” (Doc. 22 at
13-14). Duncan does not stand for the proposition
that any evidence indicating a condition causing severe pain,
no matter how contradictory or unsupported, commands a
finding of disability. Rather, courts must look to the
objective medical evidence contained in the record as a
whole, which is exactly what occurred in this case. Thus,
Plaintiff's objection will be OVERRULED.
Opinion of Dr. Redmon Regarding Plaintiff's Ability to
Plaintiff's argues that a second opinion of Dr. Redmon
should have resulted in a finding of disability.
Specifically, Dr. Redmon opined: “[Plaintiff]'s
medical conditions prevent him from performing any type of
full time work.” (Doc. 13-4 at 71). Plaintiff presented
an identical argument to the Magistrate Judge, who analyzed
it fully and found it was without merit. (Doc. 22 at 6-15).
These arguments are not properly before the Court, and
Plaintiff's objections in this respect will be
OVERRULED. See VanDiver v. Martin,
304 F.Supp.2d 934, 937 (E.D. Mich. 2004) (“A general
objection, or one that merely restates the arguments
previously presented is not sufficient to alert the court to
alleged errors on the part of the magistrate judge. An
‘objection' that does nothing more than state a
disagreement with a magistrate's suggested resolution, or
simply summarizes what has been presented before, is not an
‘objection' as that term is used in this
Weight Afforded to Dr. Hunt's Findings
Plaintiff also objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding
that the ALJ properly relied upon the medical opinion of Dr.
Hunt. According to Plaintiff, Dr. Hunt did not examine
Plaintiff's medical records or review the report of his
treating physician Dr. Redmon. (Doc. 23 at 3-4). In addition,
Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Hunt's conclusions regarding
his MRI are incorrect, as Dr. Hunt concluded that Plaintiff
had “minimal left neural foraminal narrowing”
while another report in the record characterized the
narrowing as “marked.” (Docs. 23 at 3; 13-2 at
115; 13-4 at 72).
arguments regarding the medical records Dr. Hunt failed to
review are without merit. The record reflects that Dr. Hunt
took a medical history from Plaintiff, conducted a physical
examination, and analyzed a recent MRI. (Doc. 13-2 at
114-116). These are factors that courts should consider when
evaluating medical opinions from non-treating sources. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(C)(1), (3)-(6). Plaintiff cites no