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Thomas v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Western Division

October 3, 2018

ANNIE THOMAS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is pro se Plaintiff Annie Thomas's letter (doc. 22) in which she requests that the Court “reopen the time to file the appeal for 14 days in accordance with Fed.R.App.P.4(a)(6).” (Id. at 1). Because “[a] document filed pro se is ‘to be liberally construed, '” Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (quoting Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976)), the Court will treat this letter as a motion to reopen the time to file an appeal and will refer to it as the “Motion.” See Sullen v. Steward, No. 14-0112, 2015 WL 2131207, at *2 (S.D. Ala. May 4, 2015) (treating a pro se litigant's letter as “a motion to reopen” under Rule 4(a)(6)). For the reasons stated in this opinion, the Motion is due to be DENIED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On June 5, 2017, Ms. Thomas initiated this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (See doc. 1). Ms. Thomas sought review of a final adverse decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”), who denied her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. (See id.) On June 19, 2018, the Court entered its Memorandum Opinion (doc. 20) and Final Order (doc. 21) affirming the decision of the Commissioner. (See doc. 20; doc. 21). However, service of the Memorandum Opinion and Final Order to Ms. Thomas was not recorded on the Docket Sheet. (See Docket Sheet).

         On August 14, 2018, Ms. Thomas called the Court to check on the status of her case. (See id.) When Ms. Thomas was informed that her case had been closed in June, “she stated [that] she had not received [a] copy of [the] final decision.” (Id.) On the same day, the clerk mailed the Memorandum Opinion and Final Order to Ms. Thomas. (See id.) This time, service was recorded on the Docket Sheet. (See id.)

         The Court did not hear from Ms. Thomas again until September 10, 2018, when it received the Motion in the mail. (See id.; doc. 22 at 1). The clerk then promptly filed the Motion. (See Docket Sheet; doc. 22 at 1). The Motion was dated September 5, 2018, and states as follows:

I did not know that you denied my appeal on June 19th and learned about it only recently which is outside the 60 days period for filing a notice of appeal.
Please reopen the time to file the appeal for 14 days in accordance with Fed.R.App.P.4(a)(6).

(Doc. 22 at 1).

         II. STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 77(d)(2) states that “[l]ack of notice of the entry [of an order or judgment] does not affect the time for appeal or relieve-or authorize the court to relieve-a party for failing to appeal within the time allowed, except as allowed by Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (4)(a).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 77(d)(2) (emphases added). Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 4(a)(6) provides as follows:

The district court may reopen the time to file an appeal for a period of 14 days after the date when its order to reopen is entered, but only if all the following conditions are satisfied:
(A) the court finds that the moving party did not receive notice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 77(d) of the entry of the judgment or order sought to be appealed within 21 days after entry;
(B) the motion is filed within 180 days after the judgment or order is entered or within 14 days after the moving party receives notice under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ...

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