United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Asheville Division
D. Whitney Chief United States District Judge
MATTER is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 11) and Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 17). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636 (b)(1)(B), these motions were referred to the Magistrate
Judge David Cayer for issuance of a Memorandum and
Recommendation (“M & R”) for disposition
(Doc. No. 19). The M & R respectfully recommends
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be denied,
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment be granted, and
the Commissioner's decision be reversed. After Plaintiff
filed objections to the M & R (Doc. No. 20), and
Defendant rested on the memorandum previously filed with this
Court (Doc. No. 21), this matter is now ripe for review.
reasons set forth, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections (Doc. No. 20), ACCEPTS and ADOPTS the M & R
(Doc. No. 19), DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Summary
Judgment (Doc. No. 11), GRANTS Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 17), and AFFIRMS the
does not lodge any specific objections to the procedural
history and factual Background, Standard of Review, or
Discussion of the sequential evaluation process. Having
conducted a careful review of these portions of the M &
R, the Court finds that the M & R's treatment thereof
is correct and supported by the record. Because the
procedural posture before this Court is different than that
of the magistrate judge, the Court provides a short review of
the applicable legal authority for reviewing an M & R.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Review of the Commissioner's Determination
to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and
§ 1383(c)(3), this Court's review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security is limited
to: (1) whether substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner's decision, Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 390, 401 (1971), and (2) whether the
Commissioner applied the correct legal standards, 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) (2006); Hays v. Sullivan, 907 F.2d
1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990); Rhyne v. Astrue, 3:09-
cv-412-FDW-D SC, 2011 WL 1239800, at *2 (W.D. N.C. Mar. 30,
2011). Furthermore, “it is not within the province of a
reviewing court to determine the weight of evidence, nor is
it the court's function to substitute its judgment for
that of the Secretary if his decision is supported by
substantial evidence.” Hays, 907 F.2d at 1456;
see also Rhyne, 2011 WL 1239800 at *2.
evidence is “more than a scintilla and [it] must do
more than create a suspicion of the existence of a fact to be
established. It means such relevant evidence that a
reasonable mind would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Smith v. Heckler, 782 F.2d 1176,
1179 (4th Cir.1986) (quoting Richardson, 402 U.S. at
401); Rhyne, 2011 WL 1239800 at *2. Thus, if this
Court finds that the Commissioner applied the correct legal
standards and that his decision is supported by substantial
evidence, the Commissioner's determination may not be
Review of the Memorandum and Recommendation
case, the M & R recommended that: (1) Plaintiff's
Motion for Summary Judgment be denied; (2) Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment be granted; and (3) the
Commissioner's determination be affirmed. The M & R
found that there was “substantial evidence to support
the ALJ's evaluation of the record and his ultimate
determination that Plaintiff was not disabled.” (Doc.
No. 19 at 7-8).
Federal Magistrate Act states that a district court
“shall make a de novo determination of those portions
of the report or specific proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection was made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1); see also Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d
198, 200 (4th Cir. 1983). De novo review is not required,
however, “when a party makes general or conclusory
objections that do not direct the court to a specific error
in the magistrate judge's proposed findings and
recommendations.” Orpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d
44, 47 (4th Cir. 1982); see also Diamond v. Colonial Life
& Accident Ins. Co., 416 F.3d 310, 315 (4th Cir.
2005). Objections to an M & R must specifically identify
portions of the report and the basis for those objections.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Furthermore, “a general objection
to a magistrate judge's findings is not
sufficient-‘a party must object to the
[magistrate's] finding or recommendation . . . with
sufficient specificity so as to reasonably alert the district
court of the true ground for the objection.'”
United States v. Benton, 523 F.3d 424, 428 (4th Cir.
2008) (quoting United States v. Midgette, 478 F.3d
616, 621 (4th Cir. 2007)). General objections include those
that merely restate or reformulate arguments a party has made
previously to a magistrate judge. See Jackson v.
Astrue, No. 1:09-cv-467, 2011 WL 1883026 (W.D. N.C. May
17, 2011); Aldrich v. Bock, 327 F.Supp.2d 743, 747
(E.D.Mich. 2004) (“A general objection or one that
merely restates the arguments previously presented is not
sufficient to alert the court to alleged errors on the part
of the magistrate judge. An ‘objection' that does
nothing more than state a disagreement with a
magistrate's suggested resolution, or simply summarizes
what has been presented before, is not an
‘objection' as that term is used in this
context.”). “Examining new arguments already
assessed in the M & R would waste judicial resources;
parties must explain why the M & R is erroneous, rather
than simply rehashing their prior filings and stating the
report's assessment was wrong.” Hendrix v.
Colvin, No. 5:12-cv- 01353, 2013 WL 2407126, at *12
(D.S.C. June 3, 2013). “General or conclusive
objections result not only in the loss of de novo review by
the district court, but also in the waiver of appellate
review.” Brock v. Colvin, No.
2:13-cv-0039-FDW-DSC, 2014 WL 5328651, at *3 (W.D. N.C. Oct.
20, 2014) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff's brief to this Court, Plaintiff objects to the
M & R on two grounds. First, Plaintiff argues that the M
& R erroneously affirmed the ALJ's RFC determination.
(Doc. No. 20 at 1-3). Second, Plaintiff argues that the M
& R erroneously affirmed the ALJ's step three