United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
JUDGMENT AND (2) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S CROSS-MOTION FOR
Dana M. Sabraw United States District Judge
August 8, 2012, Plaintiff Lisa Hensley filed an application
for disability income benefits, alleging a disability onset
date of January 30, 2012. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) at 9, 77.) Plaintiff alleged she was
disabled due to fibromyalgia and muscle spasms. (Id.
at 77.) Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, after which she requested a hearing before
an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
(Id. at 97-100, 106-10, 112-13.) ALJ Peter J.
Valentino held a hearing on March 19, 2015. (Id. at
21-75.) Attorney David Shore represented Plaintiff at the
hearing. (Id.) The ALJ heard testimony from
Plaintiff, medical expert Charles Cooke, M.D., and vocational
expert Connie Guillory. (Id.) On April 28, 2015, the
ALJ issued a written decision, finding Plaintiff not
disabled. (Id. at 9-16.) Plaintiff filed a request
for review of that decision, which the Appeals Council denied
on August 4, 2016. (Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff filed the
present case on September 7, 2016.
now moves for reversal or remand of Defendant Commissioner of
Social Security's decision to deny her benefits.
Defendant opposes Plaintiff's motion and cross-moves for
summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court
denies Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grants
Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment.
is a 57 year old female with past relevant work experience as
a registered nurse. (AR at 76, 94.) She developed pain
syndrome in 2003 or 2004, as a result of a virus.
(Id. at 299.) Plaintiff's pain syndrome has been
diagnosed as fibromyalgia, and she has been seeing John Qian,
M.D., her pain management doctor, for treatment.
(Id. 31-32, 399.)
relevant to the present case, Plaintiff saw Dr. Qian on July
31, 2012. (AR 392.) Plaintiff complained of moderate to
severe fibromyalgia pains and severe muscle spasms.
(Id.) After a physical examination, Dr. Qian noted
that Plaintiff “is alert and orientated[, ]” and
“[s]he is in no acute distress.” (Id. at
393.) Dr. Qian recommended that Plaintiff continue the
current medical regimen, which included morphine sulfate,
xanax, trazodone, neurontin, and baclofen. (Id.)
Subsequently on August 27, 2012, Plaintiff saw Dr. Qian for a
follow-up visit. (Id. at 390.) Dr. Qian noted
Plaintiff's pain was manageable with current medication
and recommended Plaintiff to continue the current medical
regime. (Id. at 391.)
October 29, 2012 and November 26, 2012, Plaintiff returned to
Dr. Qian. (AR at 378, 374.) Plaintiff complained that
“she continues to struggle with chronic pain” and
described her current pain as 7 on a scale of 0 to 10.
(Id.) Dr. Qian, however, noted that Plaintiff's
pain has been manageable with medication, and therefore,
recommended Plaintiff to continue the current medication
regime. (Id. at 378-79, 374-75.)
December 3, 2012, Plaintiff saw Thomas J. Sabourin, M.D. for
a consultative orthopaedic evaluation. (AR at 299.) Plaintiff
complained of pain in the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists,
hands, upper back, lower back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
(Id.) Dr. Sabourin conducted a physical examination
and noted that Plaintiff had a normal gait, normal range of
motion of her cervical spine and lumbar spine with pain
throughout the range of motion, negative straight leg raise,
and full range of motion of the upper and lower extremities
with some diffuse tenderness. (Id. at 300-01.) Dr.
Sabourin diagnosed Plaintiff with generalized pain syndrome
of an undetermined etiology, and concluded that Plaintiff
does not have any orthopedic restrictions. (Id. at
December 24, 2012, Plaintiff saw Dr. Qian and reported that
she continues to have moderate to severe fibromyalgia related
pains. (AR at 366.) Dr. Qian again recommended that Plaintiff
continue the current medication regime because her pain was
manageable with medications. (Id. at 366-37.)
Plaintiff returned to Dr. Qian for follow-up visits in
January 2013 through January 2015. (Id. at 318, 321,
324, 338, 342, 346, 350, 356, 361, 397, 400, 403, 406, 409,
412, 415, 418, 421.) In the progress reports documenting
theses visits, Dr. Qian noted that Plaintiff continued to
report moderate to severe fibromyalgia related pains, but
nevertheless, opined that Plaintiff's pain was manageable
Plaintiff's most recent visit to Dr. Qian on February 18,
2015, Plaintiff reported that she “is able to manage
pain w[ith] the current regimen…. [and is] doing fine
with pain management.” (Id. at 394.) Dr. Qian
noted that Plaintiff had 18/18 positive trigger points, but
she was otherwise alert and oriented, not in acute distress,
and “functioning at baseline.” (Id. at
395.) Dr. Qian again recommended Plaintiff to continue the
current medication regimen. (Id. at 395.)
raises two arguments in her motion for summary judgment.
First, Plaintiff argues the ALJ improperly rejected her
subjective complaints regarding the severity of her symptoms.
Second, Plaintiff asserts the ALJ failed to properly consider
the opinions of her treating physicians. Defendant disputes
there was anything improper about the ALJ's analysis, and