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Patterson v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana

June 7, 2017




         This matter comes before the Court on Defendant Commissioner of Social Security's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 8], filed on November 17, 2016. Plaintiff Ajaninea T. Patterson filed a pro se Complaint [ECF No. 1] on July 12, 2016. The Defendant moved to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), asserting that the Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Plaintiff responded to the Defendant's Motion on May 18, 2017. [ECF No. 12]. Having reviewed the parties' submissions, the Court grants the Defendant's Motion.


         This case involves the Plaintiffs claim for social security benefits. The relevant background is taken from the Defendant's Declaration [ECF No. 8-1], attached to its Motion to Dismiss:

On February 6, 2015, an Administrative Law Judge issued a decision denying the [P]laintiff s claim for benefits under Titles II and XVI [of the Social Security Act], and mailed a copy thereof to the [P]laintiff. Thereafter, the [P]laintiff requested review of this decision. On April 4, 2016, the Appeals Council sent, by mail addressed to the [P]laintiff at 2917 Euclid St., Fort Wayne, IN 46806, with a copy to the representative, notice of its action on the [P]laintiff s request for review and of the right to commence a civil action within sixty (60) days from the date of receipt.

(Chung Decl. ¶ (3)(a), ECF No. 8-1.) The Plaintiff filed this Complaint in the Northern District of Indiana on July 12, 2016, asking this Court to "reverse the decision of the Commissioner and order the Commissioner to pay benefits, the costs of this action, and other relief." (Compl. ¶ 2, ECF No. I.)[1]


         A motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) tests the sufficiency of the complaint and not the merits of the suit. Gibson v. City of Chi., 910 F.2d 1510, 1520 (7th Cir. 1990). The court presumes all well-pleaded allegations to be true, views them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and accepts as true all reasonable inferences to be drawn from the allegations. Whirlpool Fin. Corp. v. GN Holdings, Inc., 67 F.3d 605, 608 (7th Cir. 1995).

         The Supreme Court has articulated the following standard regarding factual allegations that are required to survive dismissal:

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiffs obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact).

Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quotation marks, ellipsis, citations, and footnote omitted). A complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim that is plausible on its face." Id. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the pleaded factual content allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). Although the court must accept as true all well-pleaded facts and draw all permissible inferences in the plaintiffs favor, it need not accept as true "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements." Id. at 678 (citing Twombly at 555). Legal conclusions can provide a complaint's framework, but unless well-pleaded factual allegations move the claims from conceivable to plausible, they are insufficient to state a claim. Id. at 680. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief requires a reviewing court to "draw on its judicial experience and common sense." Id. at 679.

         Plaintiffs can also plead themselves out of court if the allegations clearly establish all the elements of an affirmative defense, including the defense that the action was filed after the statute of limitations period expired. Chi. Bldg. Design, P.C v. Mongolian House, Inc., 770 F.3d 610, 613-14 (7th Cir. 2014); see also Logan v. Wilkins, 644 F.3d 577, 582 (7th Cir. 2011) ("[W]hen the allegations of the complaint reveal that relief is barred by the applicable statute of limitations, the complaint is subject to dismissal for failure to state a claim."); United States v. Lewis, 411 F.3d 838, 842 (7th Cir. 2005) (citing exception to the rule that complaints do not have to anticipate affirmative defenses to survive a motion to dismiss where "the allegations of the complaint itself set forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative defense, such as when a complaint plainly reveals that an action is untimely under the governing statute of limitations"); Tregenza v. Great Am. Comm 'ns Co., 12F.3d717, 718 (7th Cir. 1993) (noting that even though a plaintiff is not required to negate a statute of limitations affirmative defense in his complaint, "if he pleads facts that show that his suit is time-barred or otherwise without merit, he has pleaded himself out of court").


         The Defendant moves to dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim on the grounds that the Plaintiffs civil action was untimely filed. The Plaintiff does not respond to the ...

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