not mention in the brief. The latter section refers to "chiropractors" as a source that may "help us to understand how your impairment affects your ability to work."
For the reasons stated in that case "there is no rational reason why the chiropractor's opinion on the nature and extent of disability should not receive the same weight accorded under the law to the opinions of treating physicians." Santiago, 715 F. Supp. at 616. Accordingly, the court finds that the opinion of Dr. Sadigh, as plaintiff's treating doctor, as to the diagnosis and nature of impairment arising from plaintiff's condition, have a binding effect under the treating physician rule in the absence of substantial evidence to the contrary.
Dr. Sadigh has been plaintiff's treating doctor since October 26, 1990. In a report dated March 20, 1991 he stated that plaintiff had acute moderate cervical and lumbar sprain/strain, cervical disc syndrome, lumbar sciatic neuritis, and encephalgia. He stated that plaintiff can sit for only one to two hours per day and stand or walk for only two to three hours per day. She is unable to carry more than ten pounds.
In a report dated March 24, 1992 Dr. Sadigh stated that "she has poor quality of life due to persistent pain symptoms," and that "because of injuries sustained in the accident, she has been unable to resume full physical activities at her job and had been unable to engage in other vocational, housework or personal pursuits of a physical nature." He noted that her neck had a "greatly diminished range of motion," she is "in a perpetual state of discomfort and pain," and that, in addition to the above diagnosed ailments, plaintiff also had lumbar radiculopathy and acute moderate to severe cervical and thoraco-lumbar myalgia.
Finally, in a report dated April 28, 1992 Dr. Sadigh found that plaintiff could perform only "less than a full range of sedentary work."
Dr. Elliot Wiseman, a neurologist, saw plaintiff several times. In a January 17, 1991 examination Dr. Wiseman found some limitation of motion and radiculopathy. He opined that "at the present time, due to the accident, patient is unable to perform all her usual duties because there is restricted range of motion, pain and muscle spasticity." An EMG that he performed on January 21, 1991 indicated that plaintiff had left lumbar radiculopathy. Dr. Wiseman stated that plaintiff was totally disabled.
The Secretary, while conceding that Dr. Wiseman's report corroborates Dr. Sadigh's finding of total disability, asserts that the opinions of three other doctors, as well as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contradict Drs. Sadigh and Wiseman, and that these opinions constitute substantial evidence in support of the Secretary's decision.
In an October 24, 1991 examination, Dr. K. Seo found that plaintiff walks with a normal gait, has no difficulty standing up from the sitting position, and has fine motor coordination. But Dr. Seo also found a mild spasm of the sternocleidomastoid muscles, paraspinal muscle spasm, atrophy of the left thigh muscle, cervical radiculopathy, and low back derangement. He opined that plaintiff "may be" able to stand and walk for over one hour and lift and carry more than ten pounds.
In an October 29, 1991 examination, Dr. Nirou found that plaintiff had mild restriction in cervical motions, right para cervical tenderness over the trapezius, and some numbness and atrophy in the left leg. Dr. Nirou found that plaintiff was partially disabled.
Neither Dr. Seo nor Dr. Nirou performed neurological tests such as the EMG study that documented radiculopathy. In any event, the findings of Drs. Seo and Nirou, based on their limited examinations, do not contradict the findings of Drs. Sadigh and Wiseman.
In an orthopedic evaluation dated August 7, 1991 Dr. David Weiss found that plaintiff had a "mild partial orthopedic disability" and was able to heel-and-toe walk, bend forward and touch her ankles, and bend back with only moderate discomfort. He found that her spine was without deformity or tenderness, her cervical spine flexion and extension was full, her rotation was mildly restricted, and that her upper and lower extremity motor, sensory, and reflexes were intact. He found that plaintiff had mild partial orthopedic disability. He made no determination as to whether plaintiff could resume her work.
Dr. Weiss is a non-treating physician who examined plaintiff at the request of the State Insurance Fund, the workers' compensation insurance company responsible for paying plaintiff's workers' compensation disability benefits. The findings of Dr. Weiss do not provide substantial contradictory evidence. He "prepared reports at the behest of a party with a vested interest in minimizing plaintiff's impairments. '[A] report submitted by a witness whose self-interest may well have dictated its contents cannot and should not be permitted to constitute substantial evidence.'" Odorizzi v. Sullivan, 841 F. Supp. 72, 78 (E.D.N.Y. 1993) (quoting Cullinane v. Secretary of Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 728 F.2d 137, 139 (2d Cir. 1984)).
Finally, on March 12, 1991 plaintiff underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the lumbar spine. Dr. David P. Gerstman, a radiologist, reported that the test was negative, finding no evidence of disc degeneration. disc herniation, nerve root impingement, fracture, neoplasm, congenital abnormality, or ligamentous damage. The report contains no recommendations or further diagnoses and certainly is not a conclusive finding of plaintiff's total physical condition. It does not substantially contradict the findings of Drs. Sadigh and Wiseman.
Dr. Sadigh's opinion was entitled to controlling weight. The ALJ's finding that it was not entitled to such weight was not supported by substantial evidence.
Moreover, Dr. Sadigh has been treating plaintiff for over three years at a frequency varying from three times a week to twice a month. Even if an ALJ applying the current regulations were to determine that Dr. Sadigh's opinion did not warrant controlling weight, his opinion is entitled to great weight because of his long history of treating the plaintiff. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2)(i). The other evidence does not outweigh Dr. Sadigh's opinion.
Because the court determines that there was not substantial evidence to support the Secretary's decision, it need not address plaintiff's other claims.
Plaintiff's motion for judgment on the pleadings is granted, and the case remanded for calculation of benefits.
Dated: Brooklyn, New York
June 2, 1994
Eugene H. Nickerson, U.S.D.J.
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