United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13
(see also Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S.
Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, Dkt. 6; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 7).
case is before the Court on plaintiff's failure to
respond to the Court's Scheduling Order (Dkt. 13), dated
and mailed to plaintiff on March 2, 2017. This Order directed
plaintiff to file an opening brief on or before March 31,
2017. Plaintiff has neither filed an opening brief nor asked
the Court for more time to do so.
Lisa Ann-Marie Goss, proceeding pro se (Dkt. 2)
filed her complaint in December, 2016 (Dkts. 1, 3). Because
plaintiff is proceeding pro se and was granted
in forma pauperis status, the Court directed service
of the summons and complaint (Dkt. 4). Following a motion for
extension to file the answer (Dkt. 9), the Acting
Commissioner filed the Answer/Administrative Record on March
1, 2017 (Dkt. 12). The Scheduling Order was filed and mailed
to plaintiff on March 2, 2017 (Dkt. 13).
Scheduling Order provides in pertinent part:
(1) Plaintiff's Opening Brief
(a) Beginning on page one, plaintiff shall list the errors
alleged (for example, “Issue No. 1 - The ALJ failed
to properly evaluate plaintiff's subjective complaints
of pain.”), followed by a clear statement of the
relief requested. A general statement of an issue, such as
“the ALJ's decision to deny benefits is not
supported by substantial evidence, ” is unacceptable.
Assignments of error that are not listed in this section of
the opening brief will not be considered or ruled upon.
(b) Plaintiff shall provide a brief summary of the relevant
procedural history of the case. Plaintiff shall not include
a lengthy recitation of background facts or medical
evidence in this section. Discussion of the relevant facts
must be presented in the argument section in the context of
the specific errors alleged.
(c) Subsequent sections of the opening brief must fully
explain each issue raised in the assignments of error and
must include citations to the specific pages of the
administrative record and the relevant legal authority that
support each argument and request for relief.
Dkt. 13, p. 2.
appealed the denial of her Social Security applications by
filing this lawsuit and thus has the responsibility to
explain to the Court (1) what the ALJ did wrong, (2) what
evidence supports plaintiff's position, and (3) why the
ALJ's error was harmful, i.e., why it affected
the outcome of the case. This responsibility is met by
filing an opening brief. The opening brief is important
because it informs everyone of the specific claims
plaintiff wishes the Court to address, and gives the Acting
Commissioner an opportunity to respond. Without an opening
brief the Court would have to guess at what claims
plaintiff intends to present. Additionally, the Court
cannot act as the lawyer for either side, that is, the
Court cannot make arguments on behalf of a party and cannot
decide the case based on issues that the parties have not
after plaintiff and the Commissioner file their briefs,
will the Court be in a position to review the arguments
made by both sides and issue a decision. In this case,
plaintiff's failure to file an opening brief not only
deprives the Court of knowing what claims she wishes the
Court to review, it also violates the Court's
Scheduling Order. If the Court finds that plaintiff failed
to file her brief without just cause, the Court will
dismiss the case. Local Civil Rule 11(c); see,
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(b). Given the circumstances in
this case, however, the Court would prefer to decide the
case on the merits and does not deem the drastic measure of
dismissal appropriate at this time.
Court therefore ORDERS:
Lisa Ann-Marie Goss, plaintiff, must submit to the Court by
June 2, 2017 an opening brief explaining what the ALJ did
wrong, with citations to the Administrative Record, what
evidence supports plaintiff's position, and why the
ALJ's error was harmful, and also must follow the
requirements noted in the Scheduling Order (see
If plaintiff does not file or cannot file an opening brief,
she must explain why the case should not be dismissed for
failing to follow the Court's scheduling order. She
must submit this explanation to the Court no later than
June 2, 2017.
If plaintiff files an opening brief or explains why she
failed to follow the scheduling order, the Acting
Commissioner shall file a ...