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Robert T. Douglass v. Michael J. Astrue

June 17, 2011

ROBERT T. DOUGLASS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Robert Douglass ("Plaintiff") timely filed this Motion to Alter or Amend an Order and Judgment, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 59(e) ("Rule 59(e)"), to reconsider this Court's Decision and Order denying the Plaintiff's cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings. This Court entered a Decision and Order on July 30, 2010, affirming the Commissioner's decision that Plaintiff Robert Douglass was no longer disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act, and denying Plaintiff's cross-motion for judgment on the pleadings.

Defendant, Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"), opposes this motion and argues that the Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the Court overlooked a controlling or factual matter in its decision, that this Court's Decision and Order was correct on the facts, and that the law should not be disturbed.

For the reasons that follow, this Court denies the Plaintiff's motion pursuant to Rule 59(e) since the Plaintiff failed to establish that the Court overlooked controlling decisions or factual matters justifying the Court to alter or amend its decision.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was awarded Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits on January 8, 1985 pursuant to an application filed on his behalf on December 27, 1984. (R. at 61)*fn1 . Plaintiff began receiving SSI after the Commissioner determined that his bronchial asthma and cardiac defect were functionally equivalent to a listed impairment. Id. In March of 2000, Plaintiff was notified that his case would be subject to an age 18 eligibility redetermination pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §416.987. The Commissioner found that the Plaintiff's disability continued under the adult disability criteria, as a result of his mental and physical impairments. (R. at 62, 143-58, 594-606, 613-16).

Plaintiff underwent another continuing disability review in August of 2004 and was notified that his benefits would be terminated as of October 2004 because he had "significant medical improvement since the prior determination" and was no longer considered disabled. (R. at 63-4, 66-9). Plaintiff's request for reconsideration was denied on October 6, 2004, and again denied by a Disability Hearing Officer on December 29, 2004. (R. at 72, 75-87).

Thereafter, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") John P. Costello on May 21, 2007. (R. at 677-82, 42-53; see also R. at 782-817). The ALJ issued his decision on August 8, 2007, finding that Plaintiff's condition had improved and that he was no longer eligible for SSI benefits. Id. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner on March 27, 2009 when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.

(R. at 22-33).

On May 5, 2009 Plaintiff filed this action. Both the Plaintiff and the Commissioner moved for judgment on the pleadings. In a Decision and Order dated July 30, 2010, this Court affirmed the ALJ's decision, and granted the Commissioner's motion on the pleadings. Familiarity with the July 30, 2010 Decision and Order is presumed. Judgment was entered by the Clerk of the Court on July 30, 2010. The Plaintiff now seeks reconsideration of this Court's decision.

DISCUSSION

"A motion for reconsideration is appropriate when the moving party can demonstrate that the Court overlooked controlling decisions or factual matters that were put before it on the underlying motion ... and which, had they been considered, might have reasonably altered the result before the court." See Herschaft v. New York City Campaign Finance Bd., 139 F.Supp.2d 282, 284 (E.D.N.Y. 2001); Hester Indus., Inc. v. Tyson Foods, Inc., 985 F.Supp. 83 (N.D.N.Y. 1997). Motions to Alter or Amend pursuant to Rule 59(e) "will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked .that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." See Schrader v. CSX Transp. Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995). District courts apply this rule strictly to dissuade repetitive arguments on issues that have already been fully considered by the court. See Commercial Union Ins. Co. Blue Water Yacht Club Ass'n., 289 F.Supp.2d 337, 340 (E.D.N.Y. 2003). A motion to reconsider should not be granted where a moving party seeks solely to relitigate an issue already decided. See Schrader, 70 F.3d at 257.

Whether to grant a Rule 59(e) motion is committed to the sound discretion of the district judge and will not be overturned absent an abuse of discretion. See Devlin v. Transp. Communications Int'l. Union, 175 F.3d 121, 132 (2d Cir. 1999); McCarthy v. Manson, 714 F.2d 234, 237 (2d Cir. 1983). Thus, the party moving for reconsideration bears the burden of demonstrating that the court ...


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