UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA SAN JOSE DIVISION
May 11, 2011
COMMISIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul S. Grewal United States Magistrate Judge
STANDBY ORDER HOLDING DEFENDANT IN CONTEMPT OF COURT ORDER
On March 3, 2011, this court ordered that "the case is remanded for a determination on [Plaintiff Sayed Zaidi's ("Zaidi")] request for reconsideration. The determination shall be made no 18 later than March 31, 2011 and should either grant or deny the request. [Zaidi] shall be immediately 19 informed of the determination and afforded any and all appeal rights, including a hearing, that 20 follow under the agency's regulations." The court entered this order based on an admission months earlier from Defendant Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") that he had wrongly denied Zaidi the determination so as to prevent him from exhausting his administrative rights prior to filing this suit. March 31, 2011 came and went, without any indication from the government that it could not and would not comply with the court's order or even that it was taking affirmative stops to comply immediately. Instead, over two weeks later, on April 18, 2011, Zaidi - not the Commissioner - informed the court that he had not yet received any notification 27 regarding his request for reconsideration or any other communication from the Commissioner.
On April 22, 2011, the court ordered the Commissioner to show cause why he had not complied with this court's March 3, 2011 order. On April 27, 2011, the Commissioner filed a 3 pleading explaining that the court's order had initially been routed to the wrong Social Security Administration component, that processing Zaidi's claim would likely require more time than the 5 court had allowed, and offering to file status reports. But despite the court's order, the On April 22, 2011, the court ordered the Commissioner to show cause why he had not Commissioner's responsibility for the error giving rise to the order, the Commissioner's 7 responsibility for the routing error causing further delay, and his inexplicable forcing of the court to 8 rely on a report of non-compliance from a pro se plaintiff, the Commissioner once more offered no 9 date by which he would render a determination. In effect, both Zaidi and the court were again told, At the hearing on the order to show cause on May 3, 2011, the court made clear that the Commissioner's ongoing violation of the court's order and refusal to provide any date by which a 13 determination would be rendered were not acceptable. The court ordered the Commissioner to 14 deliver a determination to Zaidi no later than May 10, 2011, or to appear for a contempt proceeding "we'll get back to you."
At the hearing on the order to show cause on May 3, 2011, the court made clear that the
Commissioner's ongoing violation of the court's order and refusal to provide any date by which a
determination would be rendered were not acceptable. The court ordered the Commissioner to
deliver a determination to Zaidi no later than May 10, 2011, or to appear for a contempt proceeding if the determination was not issued.
On May 6, 2011, Commissioner submitted a declaration explaining that he agreed to follow the court's order by reconsidering Zaidi's claim. At the same time, the Commissioner indicated that he nevertheless required further, unspecified information from Zaidi, had set an appointment for Zaidi to provide that information, and that he would therefore notify Zaidi after a determination had been made at some undetermined later time.
On May 10, 2011, the Commissioner appeared at the contempt proceeding and confirmed that he still had not made a determination, "which normally takes between three to four months,"*fn1 On May 6, 2011, Commissioner submitted a declaration explaining that he agreed to follow On May 10, 2011, the Commissioner appeared at the contempt proceeding and confirmed and still would not say exactly when the determination would be made.
The court does not entertain contempt sanctions lightly. This record of intransigence, however, suggests that only contempt sanctions will communicate to
the Commissioner that court-26 ordered deadlines imposed to remedy the
Commissioner's long-admitted mistakes need to be
followed. To permit otherwise would be to disregard and disrespect the
many other parties with 2 cases in this court that labor mightily to
comply with deadlines set by court order. Accordingly,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that on May 17, 2011, the Commissioner will be in
of this court unless Zaidi has a determination that allows him to
pursue all his administrative 5 remedies as this court has set forth
in multiple orders. If required, the court will impose specific 6
contempt sanctions in a further order.
Notice of this filing was automatically mailed to counsel via the court's Electronic Case Filing system.
A copy of this filing was mailed to:
Sayed H Zaidi 81 Mihalakis Street Apt. #401 Milpitas, CA 95035 Dated: May 11, 2011 Chambers Staff
Chambers of U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal