Thompson v. Commissioner of Social Security, 050211 FED3, 10-3190

Docket Nº:10-3190
Opinion Judge:PER CURIAM
Judge Panel:Before: BARRY, FISHER and ROTH, Circuit Judges
Case Date:May 02, 2011
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit




No. 10-3190

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

May 2, 2011


Submitted for Possible Summary Action Pursuant to Third Circuit LAR 27.4 and I.O.P. 10.6 February 17, 2011

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey (D.C. Civil No. 09-cv-04736) District Judge: Honorable Peter G. Sheridan

Before: BARRY, FISHER and ROTH, Circuit Judges



Appellant Steven C. Thompson brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking to reverse or reopen his prior unsuccessful application for Social Security disability benefits. He now appeals from an order of the District Court denying his motion for recusal and dismissing his complaint for lack of jurisdiction. For the reasons that follow, we will summarily affirm.


On April 15, 1996, Thompson filed a claim for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income under the Social Security Act. His applications were denied initially, and upon reconsideration by an administrative law judge ("ALJ"), who issued a decision denying his applications on December 23, 1998. On February 20, 1999, Thompson requested review of the decision by the Appeals Council. On September 11, 1999, while his appeal was pending, Thompson filed another application for DIB. His second application was denied on December 14, 1999.

On January 28, 2000, Thompson brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey seeking judicial review of the denial of his claims for DIB. Because the Appeals Council had not yet rendered a final decision for either of Thompson's claims, the District Court dismissed Thompson's request for judicial review for lack of jurisdiction. The District Court also rejected Thompson's claim that his due process rights had been violated by the agency. We affirmed. See Thompson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 281 F.3d 224 (3d Cir. 2001) (Table).

On January 31, 2002, the Appeals Council denied Thompson's request for review. Thompson then commenced a second civil action in the District Court seeking judicial review of the ALJ's December 23, 1998 decision. See D.N.J. No. 02-cv-01150. The District Court affirmed the agency's decision. We affirmed the decision of the District Court. Thompson v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 112 F.App'x 868 (3d Cir. July 13, 2004) (Table).

On September 14, 2009, Thompson commenced the civil action upon which his present appeal is based, seeking to reverse the denial of his prior claims, or to reopen his claims and/or remand his claims for a further hearing. He alleges that the Social Security Administration's prior decisions were not based on substantial evidence and that the ALJ and the District Court violated his due process rights. Compl. ¶ 3-4, 6. He also alleges that he has new evidence supporting his claim for disability. Compl. ¶ 1-2. The Commissioner of Social Security moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that (1) the District Court lacked jurisdiction to reopen a final decision of the Commissioner, and (2) Thompson's attacks on the agency's prior decisions were barred by the doctrine of res judicata.

On December 3, 2009, Thompson moved for District Judge Peter G. Sheridan to remove himself for bias, prejudice, obstruction of justice, civil rights violations, and criminal activities, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 144 and 455. On July 8, 2010, Judge Sheridan held a hearing on Thompson's motion for recusal and the Commissioner's motion to dismiss.1 Ruling from the bench, the District Court denied Thompson's recusal motion and dismissed his complaint with prejudice.2

This appeal followed.


We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We will summarily affirm if Thompson's appeal presents no substantial question. See 3d Cir. L.A.R. 27.4 and 3d Cir. I.O.P. 10.6. We exercise plenary review over the District Court's order granting the Commissioner's motion to dismiss Thompson's complaint on the basis of res judicata. See Elkadrawy v. Vanguard Grp., Inc., 584 F.3d 169, 172 (3d Cir. 2009). We review a judge's decision not to recuse, under either 28 U.S.C. § 144 or § 455, for an abuse of discretion. Securacomm Consulting, Inc. v. Securacom Inc., 224 F.3d 273, 278 (3d Cir. 2000); Jones v. Pittsburgh Nat'l Corp., 899 F.2d 1350, 1356 (3d Cir. 1990).


We first...

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