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Papadopoulos v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. New York

May 15, 2014



John E. Gura, Jr., Esq., PREET BHARARA, U.S. Attorney Southern District of New York, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendant.


ROBERT W. SWEET, District Judge.

The defendant, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner") has moved to dismiss the complaint of the plaintiff Gregory Papadopoulos ("Papadopoulos" or the "Plaintiff") pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff has also requested for contempt sanctions in his opposition. Based upon the conclusions set forth below, the Commissioner's motion is granted, the complaint is dismissed, and Plaintiff's motion for contempt sanctions is denied.

Prior Proceedings

Plaintiff brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g) to challenge a determination of the Commissioner denying his claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act (the "Act").

Plaintiff filed an application for DIB on November 24, 2008 which was denied through all levels of administrative review, after which Plaintiff filed a civil action in the District Court for the Southern District of New York. Id. ; Papadopoulcs v. Commissioner of Social Security, 10 Civ. 7980. On November 2, 2011, the court denied Plaintiff's claims for relief not related to his Social Security benefit claim, and remanded to the Social Security Administration ("SSA") that portion of Plaintiff's claim relating to benefits. Plaintiff sought reconsideration of the court's November 2, 2011 opinion and order, which the court denied by order dated January 31, 2013. Papadopoulos v. Commissioner of Social Security, 10 Civ. 7980.

On remand to the SSA, Plaintiff appeared before an administrative law judge ("ALJ") at a supplemental hearing held on January 23, 2013. On March 12, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's claim for DIB. Id. On April 12, 2013, Plaintiff filed with SSA's Appeals Council exceptions to the ALJ's decision. On May 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed the instant action in this court. Papadopoulos v. Commissioner of Social Security, 13 Civ. 3163. To date, however, the Appeals Council has not yet ruled on the exceptions filed by Plaintiff in connection with the ALJ's decision on Plaintiff's DIB claim.

Defendant filed the instant motion on December 13, 2013. In his opposition, Plaintiff has requested for contempt sanctions against the Commissioner. The motions were marked fully submitted on January 22, 2014.

The Standards for Dismissal

On a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b) (1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure based solely on the pleadings, a court assumes as true the factual allegations set forth in the complaint. See Shipping Financial Servs. Corp. v. Drakos, 140 F.3d 129, 131 (2d Cir. 1998). Plaintiff, however, carries the burden of establishing that subject matter jurisdiction exists over his complaint. See Malik v. Meissner, 82 F.3d 560, 562 (2d Cir. 1996); see Makarova, 201 F.3d at 113 ("A plaintiff asserting subject matter jurisdiction has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that it exists."). In considering a challenge to subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1), the Court may refer to evidence extrinsic to the pleadings. See Makarova, 201 F.3d at 113; Kamen, 791 F.2d at 1011. Consideration of extrinsic evidence does not convert the motion to one for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56. See United States v. Vazquez, 145 F.3d 74, 80 (2d Cir. 1998).

Plaintiff Has Not Exhausted His Remedies

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and are authorized by Article III of the United States Constitution to hear only "Cases" or "Controversies." Russman v. Board of Education of the Enlarged City School District of the City of Watervliet, 260 F.3d 114, 118 (2d Cir 2001). Further, it is well settled that "[the United States, as sovereign, is immune from suit save as it consents to be sued, .. and the terms of its consent to be sued in any court define that court's jurisdiction to entertain the suit." Lehman v. Nakshian, 453 U.S. 156, 160 (1981) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Congress prescribes the procedures and conditions under which, and the courts in which, judicial review of administrative orders may be obtained. City of Tacoma v. Taxpayers of Tacoma, 357 U.S. 320, 336 (1958). Waivers of sovereign immunity and any limiting conditions must be strictly construed. Dillard v. Runyon, 928 F.Supp. 1316, 1322 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) (citing Library of Congress v. Shaw, 478 U.S. 310, 314 (1986)).

Plaintiff does not allege a jurisdictional basis in his complaint. The only basis for this Court's jurisdiction over a decision made under the Act is made pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g). In this statutory provision, Congress has authorized limited judicial review with regard to claims arising under Title II of the Act. The limited waiver of sovereign immunity for claims arising under Title II of the Act provides that an "individual, after any final decision of the Commissioner to which he was a party, ... may obtain a review of such decision by a civil action commenced ...

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