The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHESLER
Report and Recommendation
STANLEY R. CHESLER, U.S. Magistrate
This matter comes before the Court on the motion of the Federal Defendants
to dismiss the complaint or for summary judgement. This matter was referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Maryanne Trump Barry, U.S.D.J. No oral argument was heard, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.Pro. 78. For the reasons stated below, it is recommended that the motion be granted.
The facts in this case are as follows. Plaintiff Shawn Hines was apparently hospitalized for psychiatric problems in February, 1994, following an incident with the Dean of the law school he had attended for several years. (Report of Dr. Edward R. Tabbanor, New Jersey Dept. of Labor, Div. of Disability Determinations, of Oct. 18, 1994 at 1 [hereinafter "Tabbanor Rept."].) This incident led to his expulsion from law school. (Id. at 2.) Mr. Hines' mother, attorney Sharon [Hines] Wade-Spearman, requested at that time that social security benefits be paid on behalf of her son and that she be named his representative payee to receive the payments. (Application for Supplemental Security Income of Feb. 24, 1994, attached to Declaration of Kenneth Kuiken as exhibit 1.) These benefits were denied, partly due to the fact that Mr. Hines refused to be examined by a Social Security physician. (Declaration of Kenneth Kuiken, Assistant District Manager, Irvington Social Security Administration office at P 6 [hereinafter "Kuiken Decl."] .)
On September 8, 1994, Plaintiff Hines was mugged.
On September 12, 1994, Ms. Wade-Spearman filed a request that the Social Security Administration [hereinafter "SSA"] reconsider their former denial of payments to her son, Plaintiff Hines. (Request for Reconsideration of Sept. 12, 1994, attached to Kuiken Decl. as exhibit 2.) The reconsideration was granted, and Mr. Hines was examined for the SSA by Dr. Tabbanor on October 18, 1994. Dr. Tabbanor determined that Plaintiff Hines was "competent to manage his own benefit payments." (Tabbanor Rept. at 4.) A non-examining doctor reviewed Dr. Tabbanor's report and determined that Mr. Hines was disabled for the purpose of receiving benefits and "was capable of handling his own benefits." (Kuiken Decl. at P 8.) The date of this determination is unclear.
Ms. Wade-Spearman, however, was concerned about her son's ability to manage his finances and discussed her concerns with defendant Vivianne Reilly, a Claims Representative assigned to the SSA Irvington District Office. On January 6, 1995, Ms. Wade-Spearman again requested that she be named her son's representative payee. (Id. at P 9.) Benefit payments had not yet begun. (Pl's Mem. of Law in Opp'n to Def. SSA's Mot. for Summ. J at 2 ("I began receiving social security payments in February of 1995.") [hereinafter Pl's Mem.].)
Mr. Hines became aware of his mother's request that she be named his representative payee, and on January 9, 1991, informed Defendant Carmine Bertoldo, another Claims Representative assigned to the SSA Irvington District Office, of his objections. (Kuiken Decl. at P 10.) Defendant Bertoldo therefore prepared a Physician's/ Medical Officer's Statement of Patient's Capability to Manage Benefits form and, despite Plaintiff Hines' request the he be permitted to hand-carry the form to his doctor, Defendant Bertoldo mailed it to Defendant Irvington Counseling Center on January 10, 1995. (Id. at P 12.) The form was completed by Dr. B. Chernin, a psychiatrist at the Irvington Counseling Center, on January 31, 1995. Dr. Chernin indicated that "client is manifesting Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia symptomology and without medication is unable to make appropriate decisions and judgments about use of money." (Physician's/ Medical Officer's Statement of Patient's Capability to Manage Benefits form, January 31, 1995, at 2, attached to Kuiken Decl. as exhibit 10 [hereinafter "Capability Form"].) Plaintiff Hines contends that Dr. Chernin "had seen [the plaintiff] on one or possibly two occasions prior to being [asked by the SSA to determine] whether I should be able to receive my benefits directly." (Compl. at P 8.)
On the basis of Dr. Chernin's report, Ms. Wade-Spearman was named as Plaintiff Hines' representative payee. Mr. Hines signed a form stating
(SSA Form 4164(9-94), dated 1-31-95, attached to Kuiken Decl. as exhibit 13.)
Social Security payments began to Mr. Hines in February, 1995. Mr. Hines alleges that his mother refused to disburse money to him when he needed it, that he had insufficient funds to eat and, as a result, he lost his apartment, his bed, and his refrigerator. (Pl's Mem. at 2.) On February 21, 1995, Mr. Hines went to the SSA and requested that he be named his own payee. (Kuiken Decl. at P 14.) A second "capability form" was forwarded to the Irvington Counseling Center requesting that a physician there re-evaluate Mr. Hines' ability to manage his finances. (Id. at P 15.) The Counseling Center failed to return this second form. (Id.)
Mr. Hines returned to the SSA on February 26, 1995 and gave Mr. Kenneth Kuiken, Assistant District Manager of the Irvington Social Security Office, a copy of a Summons and Complaint dated January 24, 1995. (Id. at P 17.) According to Mr. Kuiken, he received only one copy of the Summons and Complaint, which ...