Thursday, March 29, 2007

disability - all evidence - forest/trees - treating physician

Martinez-Ortiz v. Astrue - ED Pa. - March 27, 2007

This disability case was remanded because

- treating physician - The ALJ did not give proper weight to the treating physician's opinion, which is "normally entitled to significant weight, and...cannot be disregarded 'for no reason or for the wrong reason.'"

- expression of opinion about disability - The ALJ improperly rejected the opinion of a treating physician whom he said was trying to qualify the claimant for benefits. The court responded by saying the "a treating doctor's opinion cannot be rejected because it discusses whether the plaintiff is disabled."

- all of the evidence - The ALJ failed to evaluate the claimant's overall condition and "instead relied upon certain discrete findings of physicians...and used those findings to reject" the treating physician's opinion. "In doing so, the ALJ unacceptably focused on the trees to the exclusion of the forest."

courts - appeals - filing by fax

Estate of Karschner - Superior Court - February 28, 2007

The appellate court stated (in what may be dicta) that, under the rules of civil and appellate procedure, filing an appeal by fax is not proper. "The Rules of Civil Procedure categorically prohibit the 'filing of legal papers with the prothonotary by facsimile transmission. Pa. RCP 205.3(a), note. The question then becomes whether that prohibition [in the note] informs our treatment of a filing required by the rules of this Court. We find that it does." The court found support for its ruling in the internal operating procedures of the Supreme Court, which limit fax transmissions to emergency motions only. See, 210 Pa. Code sec. 63.6(c).

Despite this, the appellate court considered the merits of the case, because 1) the appellant mailed a notice of appeal, which was received by the appellant court within about 40 days of the entry of the final order in the docket of the trial court (although not within the 30 days required by Pa.RAP 903(a); and 2) the prothonotary of the trial court never made an entry in the docket that the required notation under Pa. RCP 236(b) -- that appropriate notice of the entry of the trial court judgment had been given to the parties. Since that entry was not made, the 30-day appeal period for filing an appeal was held to have never begun, hence the appellate court's decision on the merits. Still, it would seem to be better practice not to rely on a notice of appeal which is filed by fax in the appellate court.

Is not Pennsylvania procedure a thing to behold at times? Or is this just an isolated phenomenon and an unjust basis on which the judge our state practice -- like New Jersey's reputation, based solely and wrongfully on a relatively small uninhabitable, grotesque area of land just outside NYC, instead of on all its beautiful, non-grotesque places to which Pennsylvanians and others flee for fun?