United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division
MEMORANDUM ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. MAZZANT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
for consideration the report of the United States Magistrate
Judge in this action, this matter having been heretofore
referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636. On August 24, 2019, the report of the Magistrate Judge
(Dkt. #13) was entered containing proposed findings of fact
and recommendations that the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration be
affirmed. Having received the report of the Magistrate Judge,
having considered Plaintiff’s Objections (Dkt. #14),
and Defendant’s Response (Dkt. #16), and having
conducted a de novo review, the Court is of the opinion that
the Magistrate Judge’s report should be adopted.
TO REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
who files timely written objections to a magistrate
judge’s report and recommendation is entitled to a de
novo review of those findings or recommendations to which the
party specifically objects. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C);
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2)-(3). Objections to a report must
specifically identify portions of the report and the basis
for those objections. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b); see also Battle
v. U.S. Parole Comm'n, 834 F.2d 419, 421 (5th Cir.
1987) (explaining that if the party fails to properly object
because the objections lack the requisite specificity, then
de novo review by the court is not required.). In other
words, a party objecting to a magistrate judge’s report
must specifically identify those findings to which he or she
objects. Moreover, the District Court need not consider
frivolous, conclusory, or general objections. Nettles v.
Wainwright, 677 F.2d 404, 410 n.8 (5th Cir. 1982) (en
banc), overruled on other grounds by Douglass v. United
Servs. Auto. Ass’n, 79 F.3d 1415 (5th Cir. 1996)
argues that the Magistrate Judge erred in finding substantial
evidence to support the ALJ’s RFC determination and
again advocates that the ALJ improperly substituted his lay
opinion (Dkt. #14). Plaintiff specifically objects that
“no doctor-treating, examining, or State Agency-opined
[Plaintiff] could lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and
25 pounds frequently, and frequently stand and walk”
(Dkt. #14 at p. 4). Defendant advances that in challenging
the report Plaintiff “essentially [argues], that any
RFC finding in the absence of a medical opinion precisely
matching that finding is necessarily unsupported” (Dkt.
#16 at p. 2).
has never been a requirement in the Fifth Circuit that an RFC
precisely match an expert medical opinion. Here, the
ALJ’s opinion and Magistrate Judge’s report
discussed at length the conflicts between Dr. Lopez’s
and Dr. Lee’s conflicting opinions (Dkt. #13 at pp.
4–5, 8–9, 11–15; TR pp. 29–37). The
Magistrate Judge highlighted the ALJ’s reliance on Dr.
Lee’s opinion that “Plaintiff ha[s] no exertional
limitations” (Dkt. #13 at pp. 4, 12; TR pp.
41–42, 114–115). After recognizing the RFC
finding was “neither an outright adoption of Dr. Lee,
nor Dr. Lopez’s opinion of Plaintiff’s functional
capacity, but clearly represent[ed] a consideration of all of
the medical opinions in the record, ” the Magistrate
Judge concluded the finding was supported by substantial
evidence (Dkt. #13 at pp. 14–15). Plaintiff’s
objection, much like the argument raised in his initial brief
to the Court, fails to consider the totality of the evidence
in the record (Dkts. #10; #14). Further Plaintiff’s
reliance on Ripley wholly disregards Dr. Lee’s
opinion that Plaintiff had no exertional limitations. Indeed,
as Defendant points out, “if a person has no exertional
limitations, he should be able to perform at all exertional
levels” (Dkt. #16 at p. 3). “If someone can do
very heavy work, we determine that he or she can also do
heavy, medium, light and sedentary work.” 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1567. Also contrary to Plaintiffs assertion,
Butler is distinguishable from the instant
case-Butler, unlike here, was completely devoid of
any medical opinion or other evidence that supported the RFC
valuation. Butler v. Barnhart, 99 F. App’x 559
(5th Cir. 2004). Adopting Plaintiff s interpretation of
Butler would require an ALJ to wholly adopt and/or match
exactly the medical opinions in the record. The ALJ has sole
responsibility for determining a claimant’s RFC.
Newton v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 448, 455-56 (5th Cir.
2000). The ALJ properly weighed the evidence and competing
opinions and made a finding that was not identical to any one
medical-source opinion. See Fontenot v. Colvin, 661
F. App’x 274, 277 (5th Cir. 2016); Garcia v.
Colvin, 622 F.App'x 405, 410 (5th Cir. 2015);
Hatton v. Berryhill, No. 2:16-CV-00276, 2018 WL
1449181, at *11 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 1, 2018), report and
recommendation adopted, No. 2:16-CV-276-D, 2018 WL
1426963 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 22, 2018). Plaintiffs first objection
also objects to the Magistrate Judge’s failure to
address whether Plaintiff was prejudiced by the ALJ’s
error. But, because the Court finds no error in the
ALJ’s assessment, Plaintiffs second objection is
considered Plaintiffs Objections (Dkt. #14),
Defendant’s Response (Dkt. #16), all other relevant
filings, and having conducted a de novo review, the Court
adopts the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation
(Dkt. #13) as the findings and conclusions of the Court.
therefore, ORDERED that the decision of the
Commissioner is AFFIRMED.