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.

Monzella v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Idaho

December 21, 2017

BETSY MONZELLA, Petitioner,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Respondent.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          HONORABLE RONALD E. BUSH CHIEF U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pending before this Court is Petitioner Betsy Monzella's Petition for Review (Docket No. 2), seeking review of the Social Security Administration's final decision to deny her claim for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. See generally Pet. for Review (Docket No. 2). This action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Having carefully considered the record and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order:

         I. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

         On July 15, 2013, Betsy Monzella (“Petitioner”) filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits, alleging disability beginning October 1, 2012. This claim was initially denied on September 18, 2013 and, again, on reconsideration on October 24, 2013. On October 30, 2013, Petitioner timely filed a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). On December 10, 2014, ALJ Lloyd E. Hartford held a hearing in Boise, Idaho, at which time Petitioner, represented by attorney Joseph F. Brown, appeared and testified. Impartial vocational expert, Cassie Mills, also appeared and testified at the same December 10, 2014 hearing.

         On February 26, 2015, the ALJ issued a Decision denying Petitioner's claim, finding that she was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Petitioner timely requested review from the Appeals Council (while also submitting additional medical records) on April 28, 2015 and, on July 18, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Petitioner's Request for Review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security.

         Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Petitioner timely filed the instant action, arguing that “[t]he decision of the Commissioner is without foundation, not supported by substantial evidence, and is, in fact, contrary to the evidence presented, ” while also claiming that “[t]he Commissioner erred in his failure to apply the appropriate standard of law.” Pet. for Review, p. 3 (Docket No. 2). In particular, Petitioner identifies the “issues of this case” as “(1) whether the ALJ gave specific and legitimate reasons in support of his weighing of the medical opinion evidence; (2) whether the ALJ gave specific, clear, and convincing reasons in support of his finding that Petitioner's allegations were not fully credible; and (3) whether the evidence submitted to the Appeals Council undermines the evidentiary basis for the ALJ's findings.” Pet.'s Brief, p. 1 (Docket No. 15). Petitioner therefore requests that the Court either reverse the ALJ's decision and find that she is entitled to disability benefits, or, alternatively, remand the case for further proceedings and award attorneys' fees. See Pet. for Review, p. 3 (Docket No. 2).

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         To be upheld, the Commissioner's decision must be supported by substantial evidence and based on proper legal standards. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Matney ex. rel. Matney v. Sullivan, 981 F.2d 1016, 1019 (9th Cir. 1992); Gonzalez v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 1197, 1200 (9th Cir. 1990). Findings as to any question of fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). In other words, if there is substantial evidence to support the ALJ's factual decisions, they must be upheld, even when there is conflicting evidence. See Hall v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 602 F.2d 1372, 1374 (9th Cir. 1979).

         “Substantial evidence” is defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. See Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Tylitzki v. Shalala, 999 F.2d 1411, 1413 (9th Cir. 1993); Flaten v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995). The standard requires more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance (see Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119 n. 10 (9th Cir. 1975); Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989)), and “does not mean a large or considerable amount of evidence.” Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988).

         With respect to questions of fact, the role of the Court is to review the record as a whole to determine whether it contains evidence that would allow a reasonable mind to accept the conclusions of the ALJ. See Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; see also Matney, 981 F.2d at 1019. The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility and resolving conflicts in medical testimony (see Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984)), resolving ambiguities (see Vincent ex. rel. Vincent v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir. 1984)), and drawing inferences logically flowing from the evidence (see Sample v. Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir. 1982)). Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the reviewing court may not substitute its judgment or interpretation of the record for that of the ALJ. See Flaten, 44 F.3d at 1457; Key v. Heckler, 754 F.2d 1545, 1549 (9th Cir. 1985).

         With respect to questions of law, the ALJ's decision must be based on proper legal standards and will be reversed for legal error. See Matney, 981 F.2d at 1019. The ALJ's construction of the Social Security Act is entitled to deference if it has a reasonable basis in law. See id. However, reviewing federal courts “will not rubber-stamp an administrative decision that is inconsistent with the statutory mandate or that frustrates the congressional purpose underlying the statute.” See Smith v. Heckler, 820 F.2d 1093, 1094 (9th Cir. 1987).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Sequential Process

         In evaluating the evidence presented at an administrative hearing, the ALJ must follow a sequential process in determining whether a person is disabled in general (see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920) - or continues to be disabled (see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1594, 416.994) - within the meaning of the Social Security Act.

         The first step requires the ALJ to determine whether the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”). See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i). SGA is defined as work activity that is both substantial and gainful. “Substantial work activity” is work activity that involves doing significant physical or mental activities. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1572(a), 416.972(a). “Gainful work activity” is work that is usually done for pay or profit, whether or not a profit is realized. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1572(b), 416.972(b). If the claimant has engaged in SGA, disability benefits are denied, regardless of how severe her physical/mental impairments are and regardless of her age, education, and work experience. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If the claimant is not engaged in SGA, the analysis proceeds to the second step. Here, the ALJ found that Petitioner “did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of October 1, 2012 through her date last insured of September 30, 2014.” (AR 27).

         The second step requires the ALJ to determine whether the claimant has a medically determinable impairment, or combination of impairments, that is severe and meets the duration requirement. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii), 416.920(a)(4)(ii). An impairment or combination of impairments is “severe” within the meaning of the Social Security Act if it significantly limits an individual's ability to perform basic work activities. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). An impairment or combination of impairments is “not severe” when medical and other evidence establish only a slight abnormality or a combination of slight abnormalities that would have no more than a minimal effect on an individual's ability to work. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1521, 416.921. If the claimant does not have a severe medically determinable impairment or combination of impairments, disability benefits are denied. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). Here, the ALJ found that Petitioner had the following severe impairments: “degenerative disc disease of the spine, arthralgia of the knees, and obesity.” (AR 28-29).

         The third step requires the ALJ to determine the medical severity of any impairments; that is, whether the claimant's impairments meet or equal a listed impairment under 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii), 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If the answer is yes, the claimant is considered disabled under the Social Security Act and benefits are awarded. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). If the claimant's impairments neither meet nor equal one of the listed impairments, the claimant's case cannot be resolved at step three and the evaluation proceeds to step four. See id. Here, the ALJ concluded that Petitioner's above- listed impairments, while severe, do not meet or medically equal, either singly or in combination, the criteria established for any of the qualifying impairments. See (AR 29-30).

         The fourth step of the evaluation process requires the ALJ to determine whether the claimant's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) is sufficient for the claimant to perform past relevant work. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv). An individual's RFC is her ability to do physical and mental work activities on a sustained basis despite limitations from her impairments. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545, 416.945. Likewise, an individual's past relevant work is work performed within the last 15 years or 15 years prior to the date that disability must be established; also, the work must have lasted long enough for the claimant to learn to do the job and be engaged in substantial gainful activity. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1560(b), 404.1565, 416.960(b), 416.965. Here, the ALJ determined that Petitioner has the RFC “to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b), ” including:

standing and/or walking for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday, and sitting for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday. She can frequently climb ramps and stairs, crouch, kneel, and crawl. She can never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. Due to obesity and knee pain, the claimant should avoid all exposure to hazards, e.g., machinery and heights, and concentrated exposure to vibrations.

(AR 30-34).

         In the fifth and final step, if it has been established that a claimant can no longer perform past relevant work because of her impairments, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant retains the ability to do alternate work and to demonstrate that such alternate work exists in significant numbers in the national economy. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v), 416.920(a)(4)(v), 404.1520(f), 416.920(f); see also Matthews v. Shalala, 10 F.3d 678, 681 (9th Cir. 1993). If the claimant is able to do other work, she is not disabled; if the claimant is not able to do other work and meets the duration requirement, she is disabled. Here, the ALJ found that, through the date last insured, Petitioner was capable of performing past relevant work as a customer service representative/teller. See (AR 34). The ALJ then went on to find that there are also other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Petitioner can perform, including ticket taker (light), cashier (light), parking lot attendant (light), ticket taker/counter attendant (sedentary), document preparer (sedentary), and charge account clerk (sedentary). See (AR 35-36). Therefore, based on Petitioner's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ concluded that Petitioner “was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from October 1, 2012, the alleged onset date, through September 30, 2014, the date last insured.” (AR 36).

         B. Analysis

         1. The ALJ Properly Considered Petitioner's Treating Physicians' Opinions

         The medical opinion of a treating physician is entitled to special consideration and weight. See Rodriguez v. Bowen, 876 F.2d 759, 761 (9th Cir. 1989). Such deference is warranted because the treating physician “is employed to cure and has a greater opportunity to know and observe the individual.” Id. However, a treating physician's opinion is not necessarily conclusive. See id. at 762. If the treating physician's opinions are not contradicted by another doctor, they may be rejected only for clear and convincing reasons. See Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995). Even if the treating physician's opinions are contradicted by another doctor, they can only be rejected if the ALJ provides specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence in the record. See id. A lack of objective medical findings, treatment notes, and rationale to support a treating physician's opinions is a sufficient reason for rejecting that opinion. See Tonapetyan v. Halter, 242 F.3d 1144, 1149 (9th Cir. 2001); see also Morgan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 601-02 (9th Cir. 1999) (ALJ may discount physicians' opinions based on internal inconsistencies, inconsistencies between their opinions and other evidence in record, or other factors ALJ deems material to resolving ambiguities); Chaudhry v. Astrue, 688 F.3d 661, 671 (9th Cir. 2012) (“The ALJ need not accept the opinion of any physician, including a treating physician, if that opinion is brief, conclusory, and inadequately supported by clinical findings.”).

         Here, the ALJ found that consultative examiner James Bates, M.D.'s opinions merited “great weight, ” whereas treating physician Richard Manos, M.D.'s opinions merited only “little weight.” (AR 34). Petitioner claims that the ALJ's elevation of Dr. Bates's opinions (and, likewise, those non-examining source opinions relying upon Dr. Bates's opinions) over those from Dr. Manos was not based on specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence in the record, given that “Dr. Manos's assessment was based on a review of objective evidence as well as his interview and examination, where[as] Dr. Bates had minimal information on which to base his assessment.” Id. at p. 8. Stated differently, according to Petitioner, at the very least, the reasons for rejecting Dr. Manos's more complete opinion should apply equally to Dr. Bates's more deficient opinion. See id. at p. 11 (“If there is a question as to how the limitations were arrived at, it applies to both assessments, not just to the one more favorable to Petitioner. The ALJ's finding in this regard was neither a reasonable interpretation of the evidence, nor a legitimate reason for giving greater weight to the opinions of Dr. Bates and the non-examining sources.”). As such, Petitioner submits that the ALJ improperly analyzed the medical evidence in assessing the opinions of Drs. Manos and Bates. The Court disagrees.

         Within his September 2, 2014 “Physician's Assessment of Physical Activities, ” Dr. Manos noted that Petitioner required longer or more frequent daily rest breaks; that Petitioner's “conditions” required two or more sick days from work per month; that Petitioner could “frequently or occasionally” lift and carry 20 pounds without injury or pain; and that Petitioner could sit for four hours, stand for two to four hours, and walk two hours in an 8-hour workday (each for 30 minutes at a time). See (AR 315). Except, as noted by the ALJ, there is no underlying basis for these referenced physical limitations - especially when considering that Dr. Manos only saw Petitioner twice, and never during either visit did he perform any testing that substantiated these opinions. See (AR 34) (ALJ reasoning: “[T]he claimant reported seeing Dr. Manos only twice. The claimant did not recall speaking with Dr. Manos regarding her ability to stand and/or sit, nor did Dr. Manos send her for any testing that might be used as a basis for these opinions.”) (citing hearing testimony (AR 42-111)). An ALJ may “permissibly reject . . . check-off reports that [do] not contain any explanation of the bases of their conclusions.” See, e.g., Molina, 674 F.3d at 1111 (9th Cir. 2012); Crane v. Shalala, 76 F.3d 251, 253 (9th Cir. 1996); see also Holohan v. Massanari, 246 F.3d 1195, 1202 (9th Cir. 2001) (observing that the regulations “give more weight to opinions that are explained than to those that are not.”); Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2008) (ALJ may reject physician's opinion if it is based “to a large extent” on a claimant's self-reports that have been properly discounted as not credible [(see infra)].”); Ellison v. Colvin, 2014 WL 4853126, *6 (D. Idaho 2014) (“When a physician relies on Petitioner's subjective complaints, which the ALJ properly discounted in an adverse credibility determination, that is a legally sufficient reason on which the ALJ could properly rely to accord less weight to [physician's] opinion.”).

         It is true that there are notations within Dr. Manos's limited treatment notes that Petitioner is grappling with back and leg pain. See (AR 316-19). But, importantly, whether Petitioner suffers from these impairments is not at issue here. To be clear, the ALJ found in no uncertain terms that Petitioner's degenerative disc disease of the spine and arthralgia of the knees was “severe, ” and that Petitioner's residual functional capacity is negatively impacted. See supra (citing AR 28-29). And, for the most part, these treatment notes reflect Petitioner's periodic subjective complaints of pain. However, largely absent from such notes are any corresponding opinions or findings from Dr. Manos (1) paralleling the opinions reached (in the “Physician's Assessment of Physical Activities”) as to Petitioner's alleged functional limitations, or (2) quantifying in any consistent degree Petitioner's pain statements and resultant limitations. See, e.g., (AR 319) (Dr. Manos's July 23, 2014 treatment note: “Neurologic, motor, iliopsoas, quadriceps, hamstrings, tibialis anterior, extensor halluci longus, gastroc soleus and peroneals were tested. They were 5/5 except for the left tibialis anterior and EHL which I would rate as 4/5.”). These realities support the ALJ's decision to question Dr. Manos's opinions. See Carter v. Colvin, 651 Fed.Appx. 721, 722 (9th Cir. 2016) (“The ALJ provided ‘specific [and] legitimate reasons' for giving little weight to some of the treating doctors' opinions. In particular, it was proper for the ALJ to give little weight to a portion of Dr. Sandra Ritland's opinion that was uncertain and speculative, as well as a portion of Dr. David Little's opinion that did not rest on mental status testing.”) (citing Chaudhry, 688 F.3d at 671)).

         The ALJ also noted that Dr. Manos's opinions do not exist in isolation but, rather, are inconsistent with other medical opinions in the record. See (AR 31-34). For example:

• In November 2014, [1] treating physician, Jennifer Holliday, M.D., diagnosed Petitioner with degenerative joint disease, but nonetheless found that she exhibited full 5/5 strength in her bilateral lower extremities with no edema. (AR 31) (citing (AR 303, 309)).
• In September 2013, Dr. Bates made the following observations: “Stands in an upright position. Gait is within normal limits. [Petitioner] can toe walk, heel walk and tandem walk. Overall movement patterns are stable but slow. [Petitioner] reports using a cane on occasion with flare ups [but] [d]id not require one today for the examination. Can raise up from a squat. Transitions up and down from the chair and on and off the examination table within normal limits. No significant difficulties noted.” Additionally, Dr. Bates noted that Petitioner had “mild restrictions” of the cervical spine and full range of motion in her lumbosacral spine; that Petitioner's major joints of the upper extremities are within normal limits, as are the major joints of the lower extremities (but knee flexion is limited by “body habitus” (physique)). Dr. Bates found that Petitioner's limitations “would restrict activities sitting, standing, and walking, ” but recommended “general changes of position every 10-20 minutes” and “[w]ork, lifting, [and] carrying at a light level.” (AR 32, 34) (citing (AR 288-90)).[2]
• Medical consultant, Ward Dickey, M.D., opined that Petitioner could occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds; could frequently lift and/or carry 10 pounds; could stand and/or walk about six hours in an 8-hour workday; could sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; had unlimited push/pull restrictions; could frequently climb ramps/stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; had unlimited balancing and stooping restrictions; and could frequently kneel, crouch, and crawl. (AR 33) (citing (AR 119)). Accordingly, Dr. Dickey concluded that Petitioner could perform certain past relevant work as a “member service rep.” (AR 33) (citing (AR 122)); see also (AR 33) (citing (AR 132-36) (medical consultant, Myung Song, D.O., affirming Dr. Dickey's opinions at reconsideration level)).

         In this setting, the Court's duty is not to resolve the conflicting opinions and ultimately decide whether Petitioner is once-and-for-all disabled as that term is used within the Social Security regulations. Rather, this Court must decide whether the ALJ's decision that Petitioner is not disabled is supported by the record. On this record, there is a lack of corroboration in the medical record, alongside conflicting medical opinions which gave rise to the ALJ's decisions on how to consider the opinions of Dr. Manos. The ALJ's decision to discount and give little weight to those opinions is supported by clear and convincing, specific, and legitimate reasons for doing so. Hence, because the evidence can reasonably support the ALJ's conclusions in these respects, this Court will not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ's, even if this Court were to have a different view. See Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; Matney, 981 F.2d at 1019.

         2. Petitioner's Credibility

         As the trier-of-fact, the ALJ is in the best position to make credibility determinations and, for this reason, his determinations are entitled to great weight. See Anderson v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 1121, 1124 (9th Cir. 1990); see also Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 722 (9th Cir. 1998) (ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and for resolving ambiguities). In evaluating a claimant's credibility, the ALJ may engage in ordinary techniques of credibility evaluation, including consideration of claimant's reputation for truthfulness and inconsistencies in claimant's testimony, or between claimant's testimony and conduct, as well as claimant's daily activities, claimant's work record, and testimony from physicians and third parties concerning the nature, severity, and effect of the symptoms of which claimant complains. See Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 958-59 (9th Cir. 2002). Also, the ALJ may consider location, duration, and frequency of symptoms; factors that precipitate and aggravate those symptoms; amount and side effects of medications; and treatment measures taken by claimant to alleviate those symptoms. See SSR 96-7p, available at 1996 WL 374186 (discussed supra). In short, “[c]redibility decisions are the province of the ALJ.” Fair v. Bowen, 885 F.2d 597, 604 (9th Cir. 1989). However, to reject a claimant's testimony, the ALJ must make specific findings stating clear and convincing reasons for doing so. See Holohan, 246 F.3d at 1208 (citing Reddick, 157 F.3d at 722).

         Petitioner alleges that the pain she experienced as a result of her impairments impacted her ability to use stairs, bend down, sit or stand for long periods of time, while also affecting her ability to bathe, shave, and use the toilet. See (AR 235) (“Function Report - Adult” identifying physical abilities before impairment: “Go up stairs easily, be down on my knees to clean out cabinets and such, cannot sit for long periods of time or stand without being in a lot of pain [(now)], I could also see better. . . . I am in pain when standing in the shower, feet, legs, and back. It is difficult for me to put pressure on one leg while I shave the other - it causes pain in knees, leg, and feet. Painful sitting down [(on the toilet)] and getting up, especially knees, but back also.”). Her pain also prevented her from preparing more than simple meals, carrying a laundry basket, or doing more than dusting and wiping counters off. See (AR 236). She would go shopping some weeks, but other times would have her daughter pick things up for her. See (AR 237). She had to do chores at a reduced pace to avoid aggravating her pain; had difficultly sitting down long enough to take care of her bills, read, or watch movies; and was no longer able to go for walks as she had in the past. See (AR 236-38).

         Petitioner reiterated these difficulties at the December 10, 2014 hearing, testifying in response to questions posed by the ALJ and her attorney:

ALJ: Now, now when you filed your application for Disability Benefits, you complained of quite a lot of problems. You said you had back problems, dizziness, knee problems, nerve damage, degenerative disk, disk and lower back keeps breaking up, severe knee pain in both legs. Leg aches. Left leg aches due to nerve damage. Dizziness, sometimes room spins. Blurred vision, pain, dizziness in both feet. Pain stiffness in both feet.
A: Yeah.
Q: I didn't think dizziness in both feet was wright. Pain and stiffness in both feet. Numbness in left foot, plantar fasciitis. Feel tired all the time. Chronic fatigue. In a lot of pain most of the day. Are you still alleging all those?
A: Pretty much, yes.
Q: Are you alleging any new symptoms?
A: Just the last time I tried to go for a walk I had a lot of hip pain, which was new to me. And when I went to one of the doctors they said that that was probably caused from either my knees or my back and they called it a transfer lesion, you know. And I told them, I said well, I've never had problems with my hips, you know, in the past.
Q: Uh-huh.
A: So I just thought it was weird because the pain was so bad I didn't even want to walk for very long.
. . . .
Q: Do you know what caused - did you have the doctors examine you to determine what was causing the hip pain?
A: Well, like I said, the one orthopedic doctor, his assistant said that it was a transfer lesion and it could be caused because my knees, the way I understood it, and I'm not a medical professional, but they said I had trochlear dysplasia of the knees. And he said that the grooves in my knees aren't deep enough so it causes them to go out so they're not aligned properly. And on top of that I have cartilage thinning and especially, I guess, in the one leg it's really bad. And you can hear like when I goo up and down steps or get up, you can hear my knees grind. But anyway, he just said that because of the back and the knee pain that that's what was causing the hip pain because everything's out of align.
. . . .
ATT: Okay. So in September 2012, you lifted a sofa?
A: Yeah.
Q: After that, was the pain that started then as severe as it is now, or has it gotten progressively worse since you lifted the sofa?
A: I would say it's gotten worse, but the thing is before theat I wasn't on the Gabapentin, and the Gabapentin helps with the pain because I was getting to a point where I couldn't even bend over.
Q: Okay. So what types of things could you do when you first had the pain after lifting the sofa?
A: Not too much of anything because I was pretty limited. I mean I was, like I said, getting worse to the point where if I even tried to bend over, if I tried to lift anything, it just was causing me way too much pain.
Q: Okay. What did you do to help with the pain?
A: I immediately started taking some old Gabapentin that I had.
Q: So Gabapentin, that was at that time would have been six years old?
A: Yeah.
Q: Okay. Not necessarily the smartest thing to do.
A: No, but I was told by a pharmacist that it's safe to take even if it's older. It's ...

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.