United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Danville Division
JOEL C. HOPPE, Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Plaintiff's Complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 9.) The motion is before me by referral under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). ( See ECF No. 17.) After carefully reviewing the parties' briefs, exhibits, and the applicable law, I find that this Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction in this case. Therefore, I RECOMMEND that the Court GRANT the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 9), DENY Plaintiff's miscellaneous motions as moot ( see ECF Nos. 8, 11, 14), and DISMISS this case from the Court's active docket.
On June 6, 2011, Plaintiff Pamela Bond filed for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-434, 1381-1383f. ( See ECF No. 10-1, 24, 28.) Bond claimed disability due to "pernicious anemia, osteoporosis, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and left-side deviation of the heart." ( Id. 16, 20.) A Maryland state agency denied Bond's application initially ( see id. ) and upon reconsideration on January 11, 2012 ( see id. 10, 13, 37).
Bond requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on January 25, 2012. ( Id. 37.) The hearing was to be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, February 15, 2013, in Charlottesville, Virginia. ( See ECF No. 20-1, 1.) On December 20, 2012, the Charlottesville Office of Disability Adjudication and Review ("the Charlottesville office") mailed a Notice of Rescheduled Hearing to Bond's last known address in Ruckersville, Virginia. ( Id. ) That notice warned:
It Is Important That You Come To Your Rescheduled Hearing
We have set aside this time for you to come and tell an administrative law judge (ALJ) about your case. If you do not come to the hearing and it is not found you have a good reason, your request for [a] hearing may be dismissed. You may not receive further notice before your request for [a] hearing is dismissed.
( Id. ) The notice also instructed Bond to immediately contact the Charlottesville office if she needed to reschedule this hearing. ( Id. 2.) The ALJ would decide whether she had a "good reason" for requesting the change, and he would set a new hearing date if he found one. ( Id. ) If Bond did not promptly reschedule, the ALJ would also consider whether she had a good reason for the delay. ( Id. )
On December 23, 2012, Bond signed and returned an "Acknowledgement of Receipt (Notice of Hearing)" form to the Charlottesville office. (ECF No. 20-2, 1.) There is a handwritten check mark next to the line that reads:
I will be present at the time and place shown on the Notice of Hearing. If an emergency arises after I mail this form and I cannot be present, I will immediately notify you at the telephone number shown on the Notice of Hearing.
( Id. ) The acknowledgement form again warned of the potential consequences if Bond failed to appear:
YOUR REQUEST FOR A HEARING MAY BE DISMISSED IF YOU DO NOT ATTEND THE HEARING AND CANNOT GIVE A GOOD REASON FOR NOT ATTENDING. THE TIME AND PLACE OF THE HEARING WILL BE CHANGED IF YOU GIVE A GOOD REASON FOR NOT ATTENDING.
( Id. ) Bond's signature appears immediately below this warning. ( See id. )
After speaking to "Kelly L." on January 23, 2013, Bond faxed a letter later that day to her at the Charlottesville office. ( See ECF No. 20-3, 1-3.) Bond wrote that she had planned to represent herself at the February 15 hearing, but that "recent difficulties with housing have led [her] to ask Ms. Tina Aucht of Madison, Virginia, to represent [her] at the perspective [ sic ] hearing." ( Id. 1.) Bond did not suggest that a physical or medical limitation might prevent her from attending the hearing. ( See id. 1-3.)
Bond again spoke to someone in the Charlottesville office on February 6, 2013. ( See ECF No. 20-4, 1.) According to a "Report of Contact" prepared by Patricia Moyer, Bond said that she was "not sure if she will be able to make it to [the] hearing." ( Id. ) The reasons Bond reportedly gave concerned transportation and housing: Her Virginia driver's license had recently been revoked; she was homeless; and she was living with family in Maryland. ( See id. ) But that report also notes that Bond "d[id] not want to delay the case any longer by moving it to Maryland." ( Id. ) Bond said she "would be in contact regarding her transportation issues." ( Id. )
Bond attempted to reschedule her February 15 hearing by faxing a letter to the Charlottesville office at 4:23 p.m. on February 14. ( See ECF No. 20-5, 1-2.) She loosely blamed her impending absence on insufficient transportation, ...