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Farley v. Celebrezze

March 26, 1963

CECIL E. FARLEY, APPELLANT,
v.
ANTHONY J. CELEBREZZE, SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, EDUCATION AND WELFARE.



Author: Leahy

Before BIGGS, Chief Judge, STALEY, Circuit Judge, and LEAHY, District Judge.

LEAHY, District Judge.

Cecil E. Farley, claimant-appellant, brought this action in the District Court to review, in accordance with the provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), an order of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, denying Farley disability benefits. The District Court was "unable to say that the findings of the Appeals Council [were] unsupported by substantial evidence"*fn1 and granted the Secretary's motion for summary judgment. Farley appeals.

1. The scope of appellate review in such cases is set out in § 405(g):

"The judgment of the court shall be final except that it shall be subject to review in the same manner as the judgment in other civil actions."

At the outset, the Secretary urges this court to clarify the roles of the United States Court of Appeals when reviewing cases which turn on the issue of whether the administrative ruling is supported by substantial evidence. The Secretary maintains that in social security cases solely involving a question of sufficiency of evidence in the administrative record to support an administrative finding, the scope of review of the Court of Appeals should be limited to determining whether the District Court "grossly misapplied" the substantial evidence test set forth in the statute. The argument is not totally devoid of merit. Unlike appeals from orders of various other administrative agencies which are made directly to this Court, social security cases are first heard by district courts which review case records in their entirety to test the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain any decision of the Secretary. Limiting the scope of judicial review, as proposed by defendant, would still insure each protagonist in a dispute over social security payments of one full scale judicial examination of the decision of the Appeals Council. But, it would not provide that fullness of review which Congress has demanded for applicants. As the 6th Circuit recently stated in rejecting the same argument as made here by the Secretary:

"We cannot accept this argument, for two reasons: (1) there is nothing to indicate that this was the intent of the Congress; and (2) the argument makes no provision for the established superintending power of the Supreme Court."*fn2

We add one additional reason. Applicants for social security benefits are peculiarly in need of a full appellate review of the facts of their cases.*fn3 As Judge Friendly of the 2nd Circuit has pointed out, courts have no right to expect that parties in social security cases will "normally have the assistance of counsel."*fn4 Indeed, as Judge Brown of the 5th Circuit has also suggested, "assistance by counsel is virtually an act of professional public service in view of the severe restrictions as to attorneys' fees."*fn5 Analogies between appellants in social security cases with those before other administrative agencies are thus a trifle strained.*fn6 Cases under 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i) and 423 must be decided on a case by case basis depending on the particular facts of each separate litigation. It is difficult to apply general formulae to meet what is indigenous to each claimant who urges a special disability. Courts of Appeals serve a valuable function in this area.

Moreover, this Court has recently spoken on the issue raised here. In Braun v. Ribicoff, 3 Cir., 1961, 292 F.2d 354, 357, Chief Judge Biggs stated:

"In Boyd v. Folsom, [3 Cir.] 1958, 257 F.2d 778, we defined the scope of the review to be applied to the Secretary's decisions by United States district courts. We said, id. at page 781, that ultimate facts must be reached by a process of legal reasoning based on the legal significance to be afforded primary evidentiary facts and that therefore ultimate findings of fact by the Secretary were reviewable, citing Goldman v. Folsom, 3 Cir., 1957, 246 F.2d 776, 779. We also stated that, 'Our judicial duty * * * is to satisfy ourselves that the agency determination has warrant in the record, viewing that record as a whole, and a reasonable basis in law. Universal Camera Corp. v. National Labor Relations Board, 1951, 340 U.S. 474, 490, 71 S. Ct. 456, 95 L. Ed. 456.'" (Italics added)

We here, once again, reaffirm these prior holdings.

2. Cecil E. Farley is a man of 60 with a seventh grade education. He worked from 1937 to March 2, 1956, the date of the allegedly disabling accident, in heavy construction work as a rigger. Prior to March 2, 1956 Farley had suffered the loss of one digit from his left thumb, one and one-half digits from his left index finger, and one digit from his left middle finger. These deformities did not, however, significantly impair his ability to do heavy labor.

On March 2, 1956, a large steel beam fell against Farley's right arm, crushing the middle upper arm through the elbow to the middle forearm, breaking and fragmenting the humerus, and badly damaging nerves, blood vessels, and soft tissue. Considerable muscle atrophy of the arm and radial nerve paralysis resulted. The arm is occupationally useless.*fn7 Farley underwent 8 operations from the date of the accident through April, 1959. He has testified he is unable to shave, cut food, or use a fork with his right hand; he is right-handed. He is unable with perfection to button his shirt, zip his fly, or tie his shoes. His wife assists him in dressing.

Dr. J. Gilbert Lloyd conducted a neuropsychiatric examination of Farley, at Government expense, ...


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