Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Summer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

July 14, 2017

TERREE SUMMER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Re: ECF 15]

          BETH LAB SON FREEMAN, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Terree Summer (“Summer”) appeals from a final decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security, denying her application for a period of disability and disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment, which have been fully briefed. Upon consideration of the briefing submitted and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion and GRANTS Defendant's motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         Summer, a United States citizen, was born on September 27, 1956. Admin. R. (“AR”) 64, 149. Summer has held a variety of jobs including District Director for U.S. Congress, Vice President of Economic Development for the Chamber of Commerce, and most recently Director of Entrepreneurial Services at Arizona State University. Id. at 40. On June 4, 2012, Summer filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits beginning April 26, 2010. Id. at 20. Summer filed her initial claim for disability resulting from the following conditions: rheumatoid arthritis (“RA”), asthma, Grave's Disease, irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”), osteoporosis, recurrent sinusitis, and a compromised immune system due to RA medications. Id. at 65. Summer's initial application was denied on October 9, 2012. Id. at 20. Summer filed for reconsideration on November 30, 2012, which was later denied on July 16, 2013. Id. at 20, 99. On July 25, 2013, Summer requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”), which was granted. Id. at 103-104. At the hearing held on June 17, 2014, ALJ Brenton L. Rogozen heard testimony from an impartial vocational expert, Victoria Rei, and from Summer herself. Id. at 20. On September 15, 2014, ALJ Rogozen issued a written decision finding Summer not disabled and thus not entitled to benefits. Id. at 20-35. The ALJ's decision was affirmed by the Appeals Council on February 22, 2016, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Id. at 1-4. Summer now seeks judicial review of the denial of benefits.

         B. Procedural Background

         Summer filed a motion for summary judgment on September 13, 2016. Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Mot.”), ECF 15. Both parties stipulated to two separate extensions of time in order for Defendant to file a motion for summary judgment. Stip. & Order First Extension for Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J.; Stip. & Order Second Extension for Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J.; ECF 17, 19. On November 9, 2016, the Court approved both extensions of time, and the ultimate due date for Defendant's motion for summary judgment was November 22, 2016. Id. When Defendant did not file the motion on time, Summer moved for default judgment. ECF 23. In the order denying the motion for default judgment, the Court stated that the motion for summary judgment was deemed submitted without opposition. ECF 24.

         Approximately five and a half months late, on May 9, 2017, Defendant filed a notice, motion, and memorandum in support of cross-motion for summary judgment and in opposition to Summer's motion for summary judgment. Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J (“Opp'n”), ECF 26. In filing this motion, Defendant did not explain any reason for why the filing was late. Id. On May 23, 2017, Summer filed a reply brief. Reply, ECF 27.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Standard of Review

         District courts “have power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). However, “a federal court's review of Social Security determinations is quite limited.” Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806 F.3d 487, 492 (9th Cir. 2015). Federal courts “‘leave it to the ALJ to determine credibility, resolve conflicts in the testimony, and resolve ambiguities in the record.'” Id. (quoting Treichler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 775 F.3d 1090, 1098 (9th Cir. 2014)).

         A court “will disturb the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error.” Brown-Hunter, 806 F.3d at 492 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, and must be more than a mere scintilla, but may be less than a preponderance.” Rounds v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 807 F.3d 996, 1002 (9th Cir. 2015) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). A court “must consider the evidence as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion.” Id. (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). If the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's findings must be upheld if supported by reasonable inferences drawn from the record. Id.

         Finally, even when the ALJ commits legal error, the ALJ's decision will be upheld so long as the error is harmless. Brown-Hunter, 806 F.3d at 492. However, “[a] reviewing court may not make independent findings based on the evidence before the ALJ to conclude that the ALJ's error was harmless.” Id. The court is “constrained to review the reasons the ALJ asserts.” Id.

         B. Standard for Determining Disability

         Disability benefits are available under Title II of the Social Security Act when an eligible claimant is unable “to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

         “To determine whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is required to employ a five-step sequential analysis, determining: (1) whether the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments that has lasted for more than 12 months; (3) whether the impairment meets or equals one of the listings in the regulations; (4) whether, given the claimant's residual functional capacity, the claimant can still do his or her past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant can make an adjustment to other work.” Ghanim v. Colvin, 763 F.3d 1154, 1160 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The residual functional capacity (“RFC”) referenced at step four is what a claimant can still do despite his or her limitations. Id. at 1160 n.5. “The burden of proof is on the claimant at steps one through four, but shifts to the Commissioner at step five.” Bray v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. The Court will Consider the Commissioner's Late Opposition & Cross-Motion and Amends its Prior Order in Part.

         Before turning to the parties' briefing on the motions for summary judgment, the Court must decide whether to consider Defendant's late-filed cross-motion and opposition to Summer's motion for summary judgment. The Court construes the filing of Defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to Summer's motion for summary judgment also as a motion to extend the time under Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 6(b). Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 6(b)(1)(B) governs extensions of time after the relevant deadline has expired and states, in pertinent part:

(b) Extending Time.
(1) In General. When an act may or must be done within a specified time, the court may, for good cause, extend the time: . . .
(B) on motion made after the time has expired if the party failed to act because of excusable neglect.

         Under this rule, when a motion to extend time is filed “after the time has expired, ” the court may extend the time upon a showing of “good cause” and “excusable neglect.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 6(b)(1)(B). “To determine whether a party's failure to meet a deadline constitutes ‘excusable neglect, ' courts must apply a four-factor equitable test, examining: (1) the danger of prejudice to the opposing party; (2) the length of the delay and its potential impact on the proceedings; (3) the reason for the delay; and (4) whether the movant acted in good faith.” Ahanc ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.