United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division
Michael F. Urbanski Chief United States District Judge
social security disability appeal was referred to the
Honorable Robert S. Ballou, United States Magistrate Judge,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B), for proposed
findings of fact and a recommended disposition. The
magistrate judge filed a report and recommendation on
February 12, 2018, recommending that plaintiffs motion for
summary judgment be denied, the Commissioner's motion for
summary judgment be granted and the Commissioner's final
decision be affirmed. Plaintiff Wilson Troy Godfrey has filed
objections to the report, and this matter is now ripe for the
raised three arguments on summary judgment and makes the same
three arguments in his objections to the magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, taking issue with the
magistrate judge's assessment of those arguments and his
conclusions generally. The purpose of magistrate judge review
is to conserve judicial resources. United States v.
Midgette. 478 F.3d 616, 621 (4th Cir. 2007). To that
end, the objection requirement set forth in Rule 72(b) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is designed to "train
the attention of both the district court and the court of
appeals upon only those issues that remain in dispute after
the magistrate judge has made findings and
recommendations." Id. (citing Thomas v.
Arn. 474 U.S. 140, 147-48 (1985)). An objecting party
must do so "with sufficient specificity so as reasonably
to alert the district court of the true ground for the
objection." Id. at 622.
To conclude otherwise would defeat the purpose of requiring
objections. We would be permitting a party to appeal any
issue that was before the magistrate judge, regardless of the
nature and scope of objections made to the magistrate
judge's report. Either the district court would then have
to review every issue in the magistrate judge's proposed
findings and recommendations or courts of appeals would be
required to review issues that the district court never
considered. In either case, judicial resources would be
wasted and the district court's effectiveness based on
help from magistrate judges would be undermined.
district court must determine de novo any portion of
the magistrate judge's report and recommendation to which
a proper objection has been made. "The district court
may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition;
receive further evidence; or return the matter to the
magistrate judge with instructions." Fed.R.Civ.P.
72(b)(3); accord 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
however, 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, '" de novo review is not
required. Diprospero v. Colvin, No.
5:13-cv-00088-FDW-DSC, 2014 WL 1669806, at *1 (W.D. N.C. Apr.
28, 2014) (quoting Howard Yellow Cabs. Inc. v.
United States, 987 F.Supp. 469, 474 (W.D. N.C.
1997) (quoting Qrpiano v. Johnson, 687 F.2d 44, 47
(4th Cir. 1982))). "The court will not consider those
objections by the plaintiff that are merely conclusory or
attempt to object to the entirety of the Report, without
focusing the court's attention on specific errors
therein." Camper v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
No. 4:08cv69, 2009 WL 9044111, at *2 (E.D. Va. May 6, 2009),
affd. 373 Fed.Appx. 346 (4th Cir.), cert.
denied, 131 S.Ct. 610 (2010): see Midgette, 478
F.3d at 621 ("Section 636(b)(1) does not countenance a
form of generalized objection to cover all issues addressed
by the magistrate judge; it contemplates that a party's
objection to a magistrate judge's report be specific and
particularized, as the statute directs the district court to
review only 'thoseportions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations
to which objection is made.''"). Such
general objections "have the same effect as a failure to
object, or as a waiver of such objection." Moon v.
BWX Technologies, 742 F.Supp.2d 827, 829 (W.D. Va.
2010), affd, 498 Fed.Appx. 268 (4th Cir. 2012); see also
Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 154 (1985) ("[T]he
statute does not require the judge to review an issue de novo
if no objections are filed").
arguments raised before the magistrate judge does not comply
with the requirement set forth in the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure to file specific objections. Indeed, objections
that simply reiterate arguments raised before the magistrate
judge are considered to be general objections to the entirety
of the report and recommendation. See Veney v.
Astrue, 539 F.Supp.2d 841, 844-45 (W.D. Va. 2008). As
the court noted in Veney:
Allowing a litigant to obtain de novo review of her entire
case by merely reformatting an earlier brief as an objection
"mak[es] the initial reference to the magistrate
useless. The functions of the district court are effectively
duplicated as both the magistrate and the district court
perform identical tasks. This duplication of time and effort
wastes judicial resources rather than saving them, and runs
contrary to the purposes of the Magistrates Act."
Howard [v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.],
932 F.2d [505, ] ¶ 509 [(6th Cir. 1991)].
539 F.Supp.2d at 846. A plaintiff who reiterates his
previously-raised arguments will not be given "the
second bite at the apple he seeks;" instead, his
re-filed brief will be treated as a general objection, which
has the same effect as would a failure to object.
objections are, in large part, a reiteration of the arguments
he raised on summary judgment and are not the type of
specific objections required by Rule 72(b). However, the
court has reviewed de novo those portions of the
magistrate judge's report to which Godfrey properly
objected and finds the ALJ's decision is supported by
not the province of a federal court to make administrative
disability decisions. Rather, judicial review of disability
cases is limited to determining whether substantial evidence
supports the Commissioner's conclusion that the plaintiff
failed to meet his burden of proving disability. See Hays
v. Sullivan,907 F.2d 1453, 1456 (4th Cir. 1990);
see also Laws v. Celebrezze,368 F.2d 640, 642 (4th
Cir. 1966). In so doing, the court may neither undertake a de
novo review of the Commissioner's decision nor
re-weigh the evidence of record. Hunter v. Sullivan,993 F.2d 31, 34 (4th Cir. 1992). Evidence is substantial
when, . considering the record as a whole, it might be deemed
adequate to support a conclusion by a reasonable mind,
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971), or
when it would be sufficient to refuse a directed verdict in a
jury trial. Smith v. Chater,99 F.3d 635, 638 (4th
Cir. 1996). Substantial evidence is not a "large or
considerable amount of evidence, " Piercev. Underwood,487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988), but is more
than a ...