Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

DAVIS v. BARNHART

May 3, 2004.

JAMES DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
JO ANNE B. BARNHART, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: REBECCA PALLMEYER, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff James Davis claims he is disabled by a condition that results in nocturnal seizures at least three times per week. He filed this action, seeking to reverse and either set aside or remand for a new hearing the Social Security Administration's ("SSA") final administrative decision denying his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act.*fn1 Plaintiff moves for summary judgment. For the reasons stated in this opinion, Plaintiff's motion is granted and the court remands this matter to the SSA for further proceedings.

I. Procedural History

  On April 6, 2000, Plaintiff filed an application with the SSA for Title II DIB and Title XVI SSI benefits, alleging that he has been disabled and unable to work since February 6, 2000 due to his nocturnal seizures. (Record ("R.") 93.) The SSA denied Plaintiff's claim initially and on reconsideration on the ground that, as Plaintiff had the ability to return to his former position as a security guard, he was not disabled. (R. 69, 73-74, 222, 228.) Following a hearing, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Percival Harmon issued a written order dated October 12, 2001, finding that Davis was not disabled under the Social Security Act, as he was "able to perform his past relevant work as either a security guard or as an electrical assembly inspector." (R. 18.) Alternatively, the ALJ determined there were "a significant number of jobs in the national economy that he could perform." (R. 18.) On November 8, 2002, the SSA Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. 7.) Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the ALJ's decision, which stands as the final decision of the Commissioner. (R. 7.)

 II. Factual Background

  A. Plaintiff's Work And Medical History

  Over the years, Plaintiff has worked a variety of jobs, including restaurant worker, PC board assembler and inspector, inspection molding machine operator, security guard, and metal press and forklift operator. (R. 15-16, 29-31, 60, 120-127.) Plaintiff last worked in January 2000 performing "housekeeping or environmental service" for Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in Minnesota. (R. 120, 124.)

  On or about January 23, 2000,*fn2 Plaintiff began experiencing seizures. (R. 147.) On January 30, Plaintiff's girlfriend found him lying on the floor having a seizure,*fn3 lasting approximately two minutes, which caused Plaintiff to bite his tongue. (R. 209, 212.) Plaintiff's girlfriend took him to the emergency room at the Community Memorial Hospital in Winona, Minnesota, where Plaintiff had another seizure and experienced loss of continence. (R. 212.) A computerized tomography scan of Plaintiff's head showed normal results. (R. 214.) The reporting physician*fn4 prescribed Dilantin*fn5 to control Plaintiff's seizures. (R. 209.) Later that day, Plaintiff returned to the emergency room, as his tongue was swollen and he had difficulty swallowing. (R. 206-07.) The reporting physician prescribed Augmentin to prevent infection of his tongue lacerations. (R. 206.)

  On February 1, Plaintiff experienced a seizure lasting approximately one minute. He then lost consciousness for several hours and was transported to the emergency room at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. (R. 147.)*fn6 The reporting physician gave Plaintiff instructions concerning medication and directed him to follow up with the neurology clinic. (R. 148.) Plaintiff did return to Cook County Hospital for a follow-up visit on February 5 to review his Dilantin level. (R. 145-46.)

  On March 20, at the Sinai Family Health Centers in Chicago ("Sinai"), Plaintiff reported a stinging pain in his left arm and difficulties with his balance. (R. 164.) The Sinai reporting physician found that Plaintiff had normal coordination, with no motor or neurosensory deficits. (R. 164.) The doctor diagnosed Plaintiff as suffering from an uncontrollable seizure disorder, increased his Dilantin level, and prescribed Phenobarbital to help control his seizures. (R. 164.) On March 31, a Sinai physician warned Plaintiff against driving and noted that he had not filled his Phenobarbital prescription. (R. 163.)

  On April 5, a Cook County Hospital physician performed an electroencephalogram ("EEC") of Plaintiff. (R. 183-84.) The physician stated the following:
Background activity consists of well developed and well organized 9-10 hz waves, bilaterally synchronous and symmetrical[, i]ntermixed [with] 15-20 hz waves.*fn7 No focal or generalized abnormality was detected[; h]yperventilation produced no abnormalities[; p]hotic stimulation produced no driving[; d]rowsiness showed generalized attenuation and slowerfrequencies[; and b]rief sleep was characterized by bilaterally synchronous and symmetrical activity.*fn8 Impression: [n]ormal EEG in wake, drowsiness, and brief sleep.
(R. 184.)
  On May 1, Dr. Howley Stevenson of the Southwest Medical Center in Chicago examined Plaintiff and completed an Epilepsy Report for the Bureau of Disability Determination Services of the Illinois Department of Human Services. (R. 141-43.) Dr. Stevenson diagnosed Plaintiff's condition as a seizure disorder and noted that Plaintiff's seizures were nocturnal, occurred three times per month, and typically resulted in loss of consciousness, tonic/clonic movement,*fn9 and urinary incontinence. (R. 142.) On June 9, Plaintiff told a Sinai reporting physician*fn10 that he had experienced a seizure on an unspecified date, had failed to take some of his Dilantin, and was having trouble maintaining his balance. (R. 161.) The physician observed that Plaintiff had ataxia.*fn11 (R. 161.)

  On June 21, Dr. Henry Bernet completed a Physical Residual Functional Capacity Assessment of Plaintiff in connection with Plaintiff's application for DIB and SSI benefits. (R. 149-56.) Dr. Bernet reported that Plaintiff could "[o]ccasionally lift and/or carry (including upward pulling)" up to 50 pounds, "[f]requently lift and/or carry (including upward pulling)" up to 25 pounds, "[s]tand and/or walk (with normal breaks) for a total of about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday," "sit (with normal breaks) for a total of about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday," and "[p]ush and/or pull (including operation of hand and/or foot controls) unlimited." (R. 150.) Dr. Bernet also stated that Plaintiff had no manipulative, visual, or communicative limitations, although he could not climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and had to "avoid even moderate exposure" to "hazards (machinery, heights, etc.)." (R. 150-53.)

  On July 10, a Sinai physician indicated that Plaintiff had complained of problems with his balance and that he was continuing to experience seizures. (R. 159.) Plaintiff also told the physician that, although his previous seizures had always been preceded by "an aura of numbness" on his left side, he had experienced "no recent episodes" involving such sensation. (R. 159.) Although the Sinai physician found no focal neurological deficits,*fn12 he diagnosed Plaintiff with mild gingival hyperplasia.*fn13 (R. 159.) On August 11, Plaintiff reported to a Sinai physician that he had experienced two seizures during July*fn14 and one during the previous week. (R. 158.) The physician again diagnosed Plaintiff with mild gingival hyperplasia. (R. 158.)

  On September 28, Plaintiff went to South Shore Hospital in Chicago complaining of frequent vomiting and loss of balance, (R. 197-98, 201.) Neurological tests, including an evaluation of his motor skills, showed normal results. (R. 199.) Plaintiff's chart indicated that he had not taken any medications recently, (R. 198),*fn15 and ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.