Stark v. Colvin, No. 15-2352 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Stark worked at GM for over 10 years as a yard driver. Her back pain started in 2000, when she underwent her first of three surgeries. She has been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, nerve root irritation, moderate-to-severe spinal stenosis, and possible radiculopathy. Stark underwent numerous nonsurgical treatments for pain, including epidural spinal injections and a nerve root block, with a regimen of Neurontin, Darvocet, Celebrex, Oxycocone, Avinza, physical exercises, and physical therapy. Stark’s pain control was “fair-to-poor.” She stopped working in 2009. A doctor assessed that Stark could do light physical demand activities based on her full range of motion and ability to squat, kneel, and walk. A medical consultant estimated that Stark occasionally could lift or carry 20 pounds and sit for about 6 hours in an 8-hour day. At a 2012 hearing, Stark testified to a “tremendous amount of pain every day.” She could no longer take narcotic pain relievers because of a hepatitis C diagnosis. An ALJ denied benefits, finding that “the objective evidence does not substantiate the extreme symptoms and limitations to which she testified” and that her testimony regarding daily activities “demonstrates a level of daily function not inconsistent with light work activity.” The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding the credibility analysis flawed.