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Minor v. Lewis

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

December 3, 2014

DOROTHEA PRUITT, on behalf of K.A., a minor, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN and EMMA J. LEWIS, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM and ORDER

J. PHIL GILBERT, District Judge.

In accordance with 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g), plaintiff Dorothea Pruitt, on behalf of K.A., a minor, seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her claim for repayment of funds allegedly misused by a representative beneficiary.

Procedural History

The Court first notes that, in the caption of the complaint, Doc. 2, Ms. Pruitt states that she is suing on behalf of two minors, K.A. and L.A. However, the body of the complaint states a claim only on behalf of K.A. Further, Emma J. Lewis is named as a defendant in the caption, but the body of the complaint does not mention her.

K.A., the minor granddaughter of Dorothea Pruitt, was awarded SSI benefits in 2006. Ms. Pruitt was initially appointed representative payee, but was removed in January 2009. (Tr. 12A). Emma J. Lewis was then recruited by Ms. Pruitt to serve as representative payee for K.A. In October 2009, Ms. Pruitt notified that agency that Ms. Lewis had misused SSI payments made on K.A.'s behalf. The agency investigated and found the claim unsupported. Ms. Pruitt asked for reconsideration and an evidentiary hearing. After holding a hearing, ALJ W. Gary Jewell denied the claim for repayment of funds in a written decision dated February 24, 2012. (Tr. 12A-12E). The Appeals Council denied review, and the decision of the ALJ became the final agency decision. (Tr. 6). Administrative remedies have been exhausted and a timely complaint was filed in this Court.

Claim against Emma J. Lewis

The body of the complaint does not mention Emma J. Lewis. Merely invoking the name of a potential defendant is not sufficient to state a claim against that individual. See Collins v. Kibort, 143 F.3d 331, 334 (7th Cir. 1998) ("A plaintiff cannot state a claim against a defendant by including the defendant's name in the caption."). Further, there is no evident basis for a federal claim by Ms. Pruitt against Ms. Lewis. Notably, the applicable regulations require repayment by a representative payee of misused benefits to the agency, not to the intended beneficiary. See 20 C.F.R. ยง416.641(a). The complaint fails to state a claim against Ms. Lewis, and she is therefore dismissed as a defendant herein.

Claim against the Acting Commissioner

This Court has jurisdiction to review "any final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security made after a hearing." 42 U.S.C. 405(g). See Boley v. Colvin, 761 F.3d 803 (7th Cir. 2014). A hearing was held, and the ALJ's written decision was designated by the Appeals Council as "the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security in your case." (Tr. 6). Thus, this Court has jurisdiction over Ms. Pruitt's claim against the Acting Commissioner.

Issue Presented

Plaintiff is pro se, and failed to file a brief as ordered. After being denied an extension of time in which to file a brief, she nevertheless filed a brief out of time at Doc. 35. That brief does not identify any issue that could be considered by this Court.

Defendant filed a brief at Doc. 38. On the Court's own motion, plaintiff was granted leave to file a reply brief by December 1, 2014. See Doc. 40. She has not done so.

The Court is mindful that it has no duty to act as lawyer or paralegal for pro se plaintiffs such as Ms. Pruitt. Pliler v. Ford, 124 S.Ct. 2441, 2446 (2004). Nevertheless, as the payments in question were meant for the benefit of a disabled ...


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