United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. COX U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
October 28, 2016, Plaintiff initiated this matter by filing
his Complaint. On April 4, 2017, Plaintiff filed his motion
to reverse the Social Security Administration's
(“SSA”) disability determination [dkt. 13]. On
July 20, 2017, Defendant filed a Motion for Reversal with
Remand for Further Administrative Proceedings [dkt.20] (which
is essentially a summary judgment motion for purposes of an
SSA appeal). On July 27, 2017, the Court granted
Defendant's motion for reversal and remand “over
Plaintiff's objections/positions as set forth in
Defendant's Motion” [dkt 26]. This matter is before
the Court on Plaintiff's fully briefed Motion to Alter or
Amend Judgment pursuant to FRCP 59(e) [dkt.27].
prevail on a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a judgment,
Plaintiff must clearly establish that the court committed a
manifest error of law or fact. See Cincinnati Life Ins.
Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d 939, 954 (7th Cir.
2013). Plaintiff argues that the Court committed
an error of law when it granted Defendant's motion to
remand without including within that remand order certain
requirements and limitations on the SSA and the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Primarily, the
Plaintiff sought to have this Court order the ALJ to consider
the issues raised in the opening brief of Plaintiff's
appeal to the Court.
course, including such limitations on remand would be akin to
the Court (at least implicitly) finding that Plaintiff's
contentions on appeal were meritorious. However, a motion to
remand obviates the need for the Court to engage in an
analysis of the ALJ's decision and to make rulings on the
same. Such was the case here; in ruling on the
Commissioner's motion to remand, the Court was not
required to make rulings on Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment related to the ALJ's decision,
regardless of whether that the motion for remand was fully or
partially agreed to.
issues were raised in Fox v. Colvin, 2016 WL
2889030, at *2 (N.D. Ill. May 17, 2016). In that case, the
plaintiff did not object to the notion that his social
security appeal should be remanded, but objected to
defendant's motion to remand to the extent he sought to
have terms (analogous to those sought by plaintiff in the
instant matter) included in the remand order that would
dictate “the review and consideration the ALJ must
conduct on remand.” Id. The plaintiff further
claimed that if the parties could not agree to the scope of
the remand, the district court would be required to rule on
the merits of plaintiff's appeal after a full briefing.
Id. at *3. The court rejected plaintiff's
[t]here would be no good reason to require full briefing and
a judicial decision on the merits where both parties agree
that the case should be remanded. And here, both parties
agree[d] that the case should be remanded; their only quibble
is about the terms of the remand order. That quibble [did]
not require this Court to engage in an unnecessary exercise
that would waste the resources of the parties and the Court,
and that would needlessly delay further administrative
2016 WL 2889030, at *2. In rejecting plaintiff's
arguments for specific remand language, the court went on to
note that “if accepted, plaintiff's argument [for
specific remand language] would give him a broader ruling in
a voluntary remand than plaintiffs typically receive when the
Court decides the case on the merits.” Id.
Thus, in remanding this matter, this Court made no finding as
to any alleged errors in the ALJ's decision or whether
these alleged errors rise above the level of harmlessness.
cases cited to by Plaintiff are unavailing for the point that
a remand of this type (before the Court makes a ruling on
Plaintiff's summary judgment motion) can provide the
specific instructions to the ALJ upon remand, as each of the
cases cited to was decided after a full legal analysis of the
ALJ's opinion as compared to the Administrative Record.
See Autman v. Colvin, 2016 WL 6568016 (N.D. Ill.
Nov. 4, 2016); Quintana v. Colvin, 2016 WL 3752982
(N.D. Ill. July 14, 2016); Newcomb v. Berryhill,
2017 WL 3189475 (N.D. Ill. July 27, 2017). None were decided
on motions for remand. Moreover, none of the cases cited by
Plaintiff instruct the ALJ to take a specific action or make
certain findings; the cases do make findings on how the ALJ
erred (because, in those cases, the legal sufficiency of
ALJ's decision was actually analyzed), but none orders a
specific course of action other than remanding “for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.”
Court is loath to require (and believes it would have been an
error at the motion for reversal with remand stage to
require) the ALJ to address certain “errors” or
conflicts in their decision before it has even been
determined whether those are indeed errors. Fox v.
Colvin is also illustrative of this point:
“[r]equiring the ALJ to ‘consider all
arguments' raised by plaintiff in his brief implies that
the Court has itself considered those arguments and has found
them to be meritorious - which, again, we have not
done.” Fox, 2016 WL 2889030, at *2.
short, there was no error of law or fact. The Court had the
authority to remand the case despite the “unusual
situation” of the failure of the parties to agree on
the precise terms of the remand order, and exercised that
authority. Id. at *1-2. Plaintiff has not
demonstrated the Court committed any manifest error of law or
fact. Cincinnati Life Ins. Co. v. Beyrer, 722 F.3d
939, 954 (7th Cir. 2013). Plaintiff's Motion to Alter or
Amend Judgment pursuant to FRCP 59(e) [dkt.27] is denied.
 Nancy A. Berryhill is substituted for
her predecessor, Carolyn W. Colvin, pursuant to Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 25(d).
 Plaintiff does not assert newly
discovered evidence, another potential basis for relief under
Rule 59(e). Beyrer ...