United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO AMEND
JUDGMENT UNDER FEDERAL RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 59(E)
THERESA L. FRICKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on defendant's motion to
amend or alter the judgment of the Court pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). For the reasons set forth
below, the Court finds no manifest error of law or fact was
committed, and therefore declines to grant defendant's
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e), a party may file a
motion to alter or amend judgement within 28 days after entry
of the judgment. The Court has considerable discretion in
deciding whether to grant or deny a Rule 59(e) motion.
Allstate Ins. Co. v. Herron, 634 F.3d 1101, 1111
(9th Cir. 2011). However, “amending a judgment after
its entry remains ‘an extraordinary remedy which should
be used sparingly.'” Id. (quoting
McDowell v. Calderon, 197 F.3d 1253, 1255 n.1 (9th Cir.
1999)). Such a motion may only be granted when: “1) the
motion is necessary to correct manifest error of law or fact
upon which the judgement is based, 2) the moving party
presents newly discovered or previously unavailable evidence,
3) the motion is necessary to prevent manifest injustice, or
4) there is an intervening change in controlling law.”
Hiken v. DOD, 836 F.3d 1037, 1042 (9th Cir. 2016)
(quoting Turner v. Burlington N. Santa Fe R.R. Co.,
338 F.3d 1058, 1063 (9th Cir. 2003)) (internal quotations and
does not argue that any of the grounds identified in
Hiken apply here. Instead, defendant argues that the
Court should amend the judgment because it committed manifest
error by not directly discussing a pair of ALJ findings and
because the Court “patently misunderstood”
defendant's position. Dkt. 15 at 1-2. Even assuming that
these could constitute grounds to amend judgment under Rule
59(e), defendant has failed to establish that the
extraordinary remedy sought is warranted in this case.
takes the position that the Court erred in holding that the
ALJ erred in discounting the plaintiff's testimony
regarding the effects and severity of her mental health
conditions. Dkt. 15. Defendant argues that the ALJ cited to
Dr. John M. Haroian, Ph.D.'s comments that plaintiff was
exaggerating her symptoms and to the plaintiff's alleged
lack of motivation to work, as grounds to discount
plaintiff's testimony. Id. at 2-3. Defendant
further alleges that these findings were sufficient to
discount the plaintiff's testimony. Id. at 3.
Court did address these, and the ALJ's other findings,
when discussing the ALJ's attempt to rely on citations to
the record to discount the plaintiff's testimony without
articulating the reason for rejecting the testimony. Dkt. 13
at 10. The Court explained that the ALJ is required to
identify what portions of the testimony are considered not
credible and provide specific, clear and convincing reasons
to support that finding. Id. Further, the Court
explained that it would not infer what the ALJ meant, the ALJ
is required to articulate the grounds for the decision.
Id. Accordingly, the Court did not err in not
directly addressing the ALJ's citations to the record,
however, for the sake of clarity, the Court will address the
two findings cited by defendant in its motion.
is a two-step analysis used when evaluating the claimants
First, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has
presented objective medical evidence of an underlying
impairment which could reasonably be expected to produce the
pain or other symptoms alleged. In this analysis, the
claimant is not required to show that her impairment
could reasonably be expected to cause the severity of the
symptoms she has alleged; she need only show that it could
reasonably have caused some degree of the symptoms. Nor must
a claimant produce objective medical evidence of the pain or
fatigue itself, or the severity thereof.
If the claimant satisfies the first step of this analysis,
and there is no evidence of malingering, the ALJ can reject
the claimant's testimony about the severity of her
symptoms only be offering specific, clear and convincing
reasons for doing so.
Revels v. Berryhill, 874 F.3d 648, 655 (9th Cir.
2017) (quoting Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995,
1014-15 (9th Cir. 2014)).
clear and convincing standard in the second step of this
analysis is not an easy requirement to meet. Revels,
874 F.3d at 655 (citing to Garrison, 759 F.3d at
1014-15). The grounds for rejecting a claimant's
testimony must be sufficiently specific to allow the Court to
determine whether the testimony is rejected on credible
grounds. Brown-Hunter v. Colvin, 806 F.3d 487, 493
(9th Cir. 2015). “General findings are insufficient;
rather the ALJ must identify what testimony is not credible
and what evidence undermines the claimant's
complaint.” Id. (quoting Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 722 (9th Cir. 1998)).
Additionally, the Social Security Rulings have made it clear
that, “assessments of an individual's testimony by
an ALJ are designed to ‘evaluate the intensity and
persistence of symptoms after [the ALJ] find[s] that the
individual has a medically determinable impairment(s) that
could reasonably be expected to produce those symptoms,'
and not to delve into the wide-ranging scrutiny of the
claimant's character and apparent truthfulness.”
Trevizo v. Berryhill, 871 F.3d 664, 678 n. 5 (9th
Cir. 2017) (quoting SSR 16-3p, 2016 SSR LEXIS 4 (2016)).
Court explained in its previous Order, although the clear and
convincing standard provides the ALJ some leeway, the Court
will not infer what the ALJ meant; the ALJ is required to
articulate the grounds for the decision. Additionally, the
Court must review the ALJ's decisions based on the
reasons and findings actually provided, “not post hoc
rationalizations that attempt to intuit what the adjudicator
may have been thinking.” Bray v. Comm'r of
SSA, 554 F.3d 1219, 1225-26 (9th Cir. 2009) (citations
initial matter the ALJ found that claimant's medically
determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to
cause her alleged symptoms. Dkt. 8, Administrative Record
(AR) 20. Additionally, the ALJ did not find that there was
evidence of malingering. Therefore, the ALJ was required
provide specific clear and convincing ...