Lewis v. Callahan, No. 96-6815

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore BIRCH, Circuit Judge, FAY; FAY
Citation125 F.3d 1436
Parties, Unempl.Ins.Rep. (CCH) P 15796B, 11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 657 Jackson LEWIS, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. John CALLAHAN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant-Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 96-6815
Decision Date29 October 1997

Page 1436

125 F.3d 1436
54 Soc.Sec.Rep.Ser. 261, Unempl.Ins.Rep. (CCH) P 15796B,
11 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C 657
Jackson LEWIS, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
John CALLAHAN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
Defendant-Appellee.
No. 96-6815.
United States Court of Appeals,
Eleventh Circuit.
Oct. 29, 1997.

Page 1437

George W. Harris, Tuscaloosa, AL, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Gregory A. Bordenkircher, U.S. Attorney, Mobile, AL, Greg Bongiovanni, Mack Davis, Elyse Sharfman, Mary Ann Sloan, Neil Berenson, Office of General Counsel, Atlanta, GA, for Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.

Before BIRCH, Circuit Judge, FAY, Senior Circuit Judge, and COHILL *, Senior District Judge.

FAY, Senior Circuit Judge:

In this appeal we review the district court's affirmance of the Commissioner's decision to award disability benefits to Claimant Jackson Lewis for the period of June 17, 1990, to November 12, 1992. Lewis argues that he continues to be unable to do any work due to a myriad of heart problems. The Commissioner found, however, that Lewis's health had improved and that by November 12, 1992, he could perform sedentary and non-stressful work. The only issue on appeal is whether substantial evidence supported this decision. Because we find that the Commissioner, acting through an administrative law judge (ALJ), failed to afford proper deference to the opinions of Lewis's treating physicians in coming to this decision, we reverse.

I.

Lewis was hospitalized on June 14, 1990 after a heart attack and was diagnosed with unstable angina, atherosclerotic heart disease, and ventricular trachycardia. Dr. Scott Pollak at Florida Hospital in Orlando, Florida recommended immediate bypass surgery. On July 3, 1990, doctors at DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, performed successful quintuple coronary bypass graft surgery. Lewis was discharged on July 15, 1990. Lewis applied to the Social Security Administration for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income on June 27, 1990. Lewis alleged that as of June 17, 1990, he was disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act due to his heart problems, including coronary artery disease and a left ventricular aneurysm. His claim was denied, initially and at reconsideration, and again after a hearing in front of ALJ Rafe Cloe. The Appeals Council granted review of the ALJ's decision, however, and remanded the

Page 1438

case for a supplemental hearing and further development of the record.

Lewis received his supplemental hearing in front of a different ALJ, Melford Cleveland, on April 22, 1993. The evidence before ALJ Cleveland consisted of hospital records, live testimony from Lewis and vocational expert Dr. Robert Griffin, and the medical reports and notes of Lewis's treating physicians, Dr. Jeffrey Anderson and Dr. Perry Timberlake, and of the Commission's consulting physicians, Dr. Maurice Fitz-Gerald, Dr. George Singleton and Dr. Santhi Das.

In the hearing before ALJ Cleveland, Lewis testified that he was 43 years of age with a tenth grade education. He stated that he last worked as a longshoreman, but had not worked since June 17, 1990. He testified that he became tired easily, requiring frequent naps, and became winded after walking short distances. He testified that he became tired from standing in place. He stated that he could lift twenty-five pounds without discomfort but that his doctors advised him not to lift more than ten pounds.

Lewis's doctors, Dr. Timberlake and Dr. Anderson, submitted their medical records and notes into evidence to substantiate his claim of disability. Dr. Timberlake, a general practitioner, reported on November 5, 1990, that Lewis was "severely disabled with a large ventricular aneurysm in his heart and severe coronary artery [disease]. He was very lucky to live through his coronary bypass surgery. He certainly is not able to do any gainful work" (emphasis in original). Dr. Timberlake completed a Physical Capacities Evaluation on August 30, 1991 in which he estimated Lewis's ability to engage in certain activities during an eight hour workday. Dr. Timberlake reported that Lewis could sit for two hours at any one time or four hours during the entire eight-hour workday, stand for one hour at a time or two hours during the entire day, and walk for one hour at a time or one hour during the entire day. He again completed a Physical Capacities Evaluation on November 1, 1992, and reported that Lewis could sit for five hours at one time or five during the entire day, stand for two hours at a time or two hours during the entire day, and walk for one-half hour at one time or one-half hour during the entire day.

Dr. Anderson, a cardiologist, treated Lewis at the time of his bypass surgery and continued to see him regularly thereafter. According to Dr. Anderson, Lewis "has known severe ischemic heart disease and he has had previous coronary artery bypass graft surgery and he has a known left ventricular aneurysm and prior demonstration of high grade ventricular dysrhythmia." Dr. Anderson also completed a Physical Capacities Evaluation, most recently on November 3, 1992. He reported that Lewis can sit for four hours at one time and during the entire day, stand for two hours at a time or during the whole day, and walk for one hour at one time or during the entire day. While Dr. Anderson noted that Lewis had been "doing better" since his surgery, "[i]n view of his documented cardiac problems I certainly would feel that he should qualify for disability and be declared completely disabled."

Several other doctors also examined Lewis on behalf of the Commissioner and submitted their reports into evidence. Dr. Fitz-Gerald, a family practitioner, performed a consultive examination of Lewis on May 28, 1991. He found a history of coronary artery disease and long-standing hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and a "history of ventricular aneurysm, repaired." He completed a Physical Capacities Evaluation and estimated that Lewis could sit, stand and walk for eight hours at a time or for eight hours during an eight hour workday.

Dr. Das, a psychiatrist, examined Lewis's mental state and found no disorder.

Dr. Singleton, who describes his practice as "direct patient care," performed a consultive examination on November 12, 1992. Dr. Singleton noted Lewis's history of heart disease and high blood pressure. He observed through x-ray that Lewis's heart was "quite enlarged" and reported a "dialated [sic] left ventricle which probably represents a ventricular aneurysm." Dr. Singleton also completed a Physical Capacities Evaluation and reported that Lewis could sit for four hours at one time or six hours during the entire day, stand for two hours at a time or four hours during the entire day, and walk for two hours at a time or...

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3927 practice notes
  • Weatherspoon v. Kijakazi, Civil Action 1:20-00075-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • September 14, 2021
    ...or considerable weight unless “good cause” is shown to the contrary.' ” Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1240 (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997)). “Good cause exists ‘when the: (1) treating physician's opinion was not bolstered by the evidence; (2) evidence supported a co......
  • Borgens ex rel. Borgens v. Halter, No. 6:99CV1414ORL19JGG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • March 28, 2001
    ...to the opinion, diagnosis and medical evidence of a treating physician unless there is good cause to do otherwise. See Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439-1441 (11th Cir. 1997); Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 583 (11th Cir.1991); Sabo v. Chater, 955 F.Supp. 1456, 1462 (M.D.Fla.1996);......
  • Caffey v. Colvin, CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-00490-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • October 28, 2016
    ...v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997))). However, the Court " 'may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute our judgment for that of the [Co......
  • Thomas v. Saul, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:19-00342-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • December 4, 2020
    ...v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997))). As the United States Supreme Court has observed, "the threshold for such evidentiary sufficiency is not high." Biestek v.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3941 cases
  • Weatherspoon v. Kijakazi, Civil Action 1:20-00075-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • September 14, 2021
    ...or considerable weight unless “good cause” is shown to the contrary.' ” Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1240 (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997)). “Good cause exists ‘when the: (1) treating physician's opinion was not bolstered by the evidence; (2) evidence supported a co......
  • Borgens ex rel. Borgens v. Halter, No. 6:99CV1414ORL19JGG.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Florida
    • March 28, 2001
    ...to the opinion, diagnosis and medical evidence of a treating physician unless there is good cause to do otherwise. See Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439-1441 (11th Cir. 1997); Edwards v. Sullivan, 937 F.2d 580, 583 (11th Cir.1991); Sabo v. Chater, 955 F.Supp. 1456, 1462 (M.D.Fla.1996);......
  • Caffey v. Colvin, CIVIL ACTION NO. 15-00490-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • October 28, 2016
    ...v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997))). However, the Court " 'may not decide the facts anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute our judgment for that of the [Co......
  • Thomas v. Saul, CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:19-00342-N
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Court of Southern District of Alabama
    • December 4, 2020
    ...v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (per curiam) (internal citation omitted) (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir. 1997))). As the United States Supreme Court has observed, "the threshold for such evidentiary sufficiency is not high." Biestek v.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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