United States District Court, S.D. New York
March 2, 2004.
CHARISSE GRUBB, Plaintiff -against- JO ANNE BARNHART, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT PATTERSON, Senior District Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
By motion dated January 16, 2004, Defendant, the Commissioner of
Social Security ("Commissioner"), moves pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e)
to alter or amend the judgement entered on January 2, 2004 remanding this
action to the Commissioner solely for calculation of benefits. For the
following reasons, her motion is denied.
Charisse Grubb filed an application for Supplemental Security Income
("SSI") benefits in September 9, 1993, with a protective filing date of
August 4, 1993. (Rec. at 31-33.)*fn1 This application was originally
heard by ALJ Louis V. Zamora on December 6, 1994 and denied in an opinion
issued April 26, 1995. (Id. at 12-15.) By order dated July 14,
1995, the SSA Appeals Council denied any further review. (Id.
at 2-3.) Plaintiff appealed to this court. On January 27, 1998, Judge
Baer found the "ALJ's determination that the plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work was not supported by
substantial evidence" and remanded for calculation of benefits.
Grubb v. Chater, 992 F. Supp. 634, 640 (S.D.N.Y. 1998). The
Commissioner moved for reconsideration based on a finding that the report
of Fredrick Newsome, M.D., relied on in Grubb v. Chater, had
been altered. Grubb v. Apfel, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2770, at
*2-3 (S.D.N.Y., Mar. 10, 1998). Judge Baer then remanded for further
proceedings with the proviso that all tasks and findings "must be
accomplished within 30 days or less" with any cause for delay being
communicated to the Court. Id. at *4.
In an opinion dated April 9, 1998, ALJ Robin J. Arzt determined "the
evidence of record is adequate to reach a conclusion regarding the
claimant's disability and . . . no further evidence is required in this
case" and denied the application. (Rec. at 138-149.) On September
22, 1998, plaintiff appealed the decision to this court. On December 22,
2003, the Court issued its decision remanding the case to the
Commissioner for 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22938, at *3-4 (S.D.N.Y., Dec. 22,
2003). Judgment was entered on January 2, 2004. On January 16, 2004, the
Commissioner moved to alter or amend the judgment remanding the case to
the Commissioner, pursuant to rule 59(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. (Def.'s Mem. of Law, dated Jan. 16 ("Def. Mem."), at 1)
The commissioner designated her motion as a motion for reconsideration.
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
Generally, a motions for reconsideration should not be granted unless
"the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the
court overlooked-matters, in other words, that might reasonably be
expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Key
Mechanical Inc. v. BDC 56, LLC, 330 F.3d 111, 123 (2d Cir. 2003)
(citations omitted). The District Court is justified in reconsidering its
previous ruling if there is intervening change in controlling law, new
evidence not previously available comes to light, or it becomes necessary
to remedy clear error of law or to prevent obvious injustice. Marino
v. United States, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12687, at *7 (S.D.N.Y., Aug.
13, 1998). Nonetheless, "[s]uch motions must be narrowly construed and
strictly applied in order to discourage litigants from making repetitive
arguments on issues that have been thoroughly considered by the court."
Zoll v. Ruder Finn, Inc., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144, at *3-4
(S.D.N.Y., Jan. 7, 2004) (citations omitted). A movant may not "`advance
new facts, issues or arguments not previously presented to the Court,' or
`reargue those issues already considered." Horvath v. Deutsche
Lufthansa, AG, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1733, at *6 (S.D.N. Y., Feb.
9, 2004) (citations omitted); see also Charles A. Wright,
Arthur R. Miller and Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice &
Procedure § 2810.1 (2d ed. 1995) ("The Rule 59(e) motion [for
reconsideration] may not be used to relitigate old matters, or raise
arguments . . . that could have been raised prior to the entry of
judgment."). This strict standard seeks to discourage litigants from
making repetitive arguments on issues that already have been considered
by the Court or from offering new arguments on a motion the Court has
already decided. Hayles v. Advanced Travel Mgmt. Corp., 2004
U.S. Dist. LEXIS 865, at *3 (S.D.N.Y., January 26, 2004).
The Commissioner makes two main points in her brief. The Commissioner
first argues that the court overlooked evidence that ALJ properly applies
the sequential evaluation. (Def. i Mem. at 1.) Defendant contends that
the issue of claimant's noncompliance was not outcome determinative in
the ALJ's decision and that therefore SSR 82-59 was not triggered.
(Id. at 6.) This position is in conflict with her original
motion papers. There, the Commissioner argued that based on the record
before the ALJ, "plaintiff's failure to comply with prescribed treatment
resulted in a finding that she was not disabled." (Def.'s Mem. of Law in
Supp. of Comm'r Cross-Mot, for Remand, dated Feb. 10, 2003 ("Def. Mem.
for Remand"), at 13-14 ("[P]laintiff was not compliant with her
prescribed treatment and, had she done so, was capable of performing the
requirements of sedentary work.").) Regardless, the court considered this
issue at length in its opinion, providing detailed analysis and concluded
that the ALJ improperly considered non-compliance in making a
determination of no disability. Grubb v. Apfel, 2003 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 22938 at * 13-25. While the Commissioner may disagree with our
reasoning, she has not presented any points overlooked by the Court or
any other grounds for granting a motion for reconsideration. See,
e.g., Banco de Seguros del Estado v. Mut. Marine Offices, Inc.,
230 F. Supp.2d 427, 431 (S.D.N.Y. 2002) (denying motion for reconsideration
where movant "reargue[d] the points it made during the initial briefing
and . . . explain[ed] to the Court how its analysis Feb. 6, 2004)
(denying motion for reconsideration where movant "point[ed] to no facts
or law that the Court overlooked in reaching its conclusion, and instead
simply reiterate[d] the facts and arguments that the Court already
considered and rejected").
The Commissioner's second argument is that the Court mistakenly found
that the ALJ erred in failing to follow Judge Baer's instructions. (Def.
Mem. at 8.) The Defendant himself,
however, admits to error by the ALJ, stating that the "ALJ
incorrectly . . . concluded . . . she lacked time to request further
records." (Id.) Despite this admission, the Commissioner then
urges that further administrative proceedings are needed to resolve the
appropriate weight to be given to the opinions of the treating physicians
at Soundview. (Id. at 9.) It is unclear what point the
Commissioner intends to make in this section. She articulates no error on
the part of the Court. Moreover, the facts, cases, and arguments set
forth are all the same as previously set forth in Defendant's motion
papers (Def. Mem. for Remand at 17-18) and were thoroughly considered in
the Court's prior decision. See Grubb v. Apfel, 2003 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 22938 at *11-13, 25-27. As courts have said before, a motion for
reconsideration is not an opportunity for "a second bite at the apple."
Sequa Corp. v. GBJ Corp., 156 F.3d 136, 144 (2d Cir. 1998)
(citations omitted). The Court has previously evaluated this issue; its
findings remain the same.
For the foregoing reasons, Defendant=s Fed.R.Civ.P. 59(e) motion is
denied. As previously ordered, the Clerk of the Court is directed to
enter judgment for plaintiff and this matter is hereby remanded to the
Commissioner solely for the purpose of the prompt calculation of the
benefits to which plaintiff is entitled and payment thereof within thirty
days of the filing of this opinion and order.
IT IS SO ORDERED