Ladd v. Colvin
ORDER granting 21 Motion for Attorney Fees (EAJA) and Plaintiff is hereby AWARDED a reasonable attorneys fee in the amount of $930.00 under the EAJA for legalservices rendered by her attorney in this Court. Signed by Magistrate Judge Sonja F. Bivins on 7/9/2014. (mjn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
PAMELA LADD, o/b/o J.J.L.G.,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Commissioner of Social Security,*
CIVIL ACTION NO. 13-00088-B
This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Application For
Attorney Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”) and the
response of Defendant, the Commissioner of Social Security.
On October 29, 2013, the parties consented to have the
undersigned conduct any and all proceedings in this case. (Doc. 16).
Thus, this case was referred to the undersigned to conduct all
proceedings in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 73.
Upon consideration of the
pertinent pleadings, the undersigned finds that Plaintiff’s motion
is due to be GRANTED, and that Plaintiff is entitled to a reasonable
attorney’s fee award in the amount of $930.00 under the EAJA for legal
services rendered by her attorney in this Court.
Findings Of Fact
Plaintiff commenced this action on February 25, 2013.
On March 25, 2014, the undersigned entered an Order and Judgment
reversing and remanding this cause to the Commissioner of Social
Security for further proceedings.
(Docs. 19, 20).
On June 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Attorney’s Fees
under the EAJA,1 and requested an attorney’s fee award of $930.00.
The sum requested represents a total of 5.0 hours, at an
hourly rate of $186.00 per hour, for attorney time spent representing
Plaintiff in this Court.
(Id. at 4).
Defendant has filed a Response
in which she states that she has no objection to Plaintiff’s fee
request or the amount of the fee request and that she consents to
an award of $930.00 in attorney’s fees, payable to Plaintiff.2
24 at 1). For the reasons set forth herein, the Court finds Plaintiff
is entitled to an award of attorney’s fees under the EAJA and that
the hourly rate utilized to calculate her attorney’s fees is due to
be adjusted upward to take into account the prevailing market rate
for social security cases in the Southern District of Alabama.
One of the requirements for eligibility for an attorney’s fee award
under the EAJA is that the claimant must show that she is a prevailing
party in a non-tort suit involving the United States. 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(1)(B). It is undisputed in this case that Plaintiff meets
The Court observes that under the EAJA, “attorney’s fees are awarded
to the prevailing party, not to the prevailing party’s attorney.”
Reeves v. Astrue, 526 F.3d 732, 738 (11th Cir. 2008).
Conclusions Of Law
The U.S. Supreme Court has indicated that “the most useful
starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the
number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by
a reasonable hourly rate.”
Watford v. Heckler, 765 F.2d 1562, 1568
(11th Cir. 1985) (quoting Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433
See also Jean v. Nelson, 863 F.2d 759, 772-73 (11th Cir.
1988) (discussing the reasonableness of the hours expended in the
context of contentions by the government that the fee requests were
not supported by sufficient documentation and often involved a
duplication of effort), aff’d sub nom, Commissioner, I.N.S. v. Jean,
496 U.S. 154 (1990).
EAJA Hourly Rate
The EAJA (as amended)3 provides, in relevant part, as
The amount of fees awarded under this subsection
shall be based upon prevailing market rates for
the kind and quality of the services furnished,
except that . . . attorney fees shall not be
awarded in excess of $125.00 per hour unless the
court determines that an increase in the cost
On March 29, 1996, the EAJA was amended so as to increase the statutory
cap on EAJA fees from $75.00 per hour to $125.00 per hour. See, e.g,
Winters v. Astrue, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59791, *3 n.2, 2012 WL
1565953, *2 n.2 (S.D. Ala. April 9, 2012). These amendments apply
to civil actions commenced on or after the date of enactment. Id.
Therefore, the statutory cap of $125.00 per hour applies in this
of living or a special factor, such as the
limited availability of qualified attorneys for
the proceedings involved, justifies a higher
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A) (emphasis added).
In Meyer v. Sullivan,
958 F.2d 1029 (11th Cir. 1992), the Eleventh Circuit determined that
the EAJA establishes a two-step analysis for determining the
appropriate hourly rate to be applied in calculating attorney’s fees
under the Act:
The first step in the analysis, . . . is to
determine the market rate for “similar services
[provided] by lawyers of reasonably comparable
skills, experience, and reputation.” . . . The
second step, which is needed only if the market
rate is greater than [$125.00] per hour, is to
determine whether the court should adjust the
hourly fee upward from [$125.00] to take into
account an increase in the cost of living, or
a special factor.
Id. at 1033-34 (citations and footnote omitted).
The prevailing market rate for social security cases in the
Southern District of Alabama has been adjusted to take into account
an increase in the cost of living.
LEXIS 97094 (S.D. Ala. July 5, 2007).
Lucy v. Astrue, 2007 U.S. Dist.
In Lucy, the following formula,
based on the CPI, was utilized:
($125/hour) x (CPI-U Annual Average “All Items
Index,” South Urban, for month and year of
temporal midpoint)/152.4, where 152.4 equals
the CPI-U of March 1996, the month and year in
which the $125 cap was enacted.
Id. at *13-14.
The “temporal midpoint” is calculated by counting the
number of days from the date that the claim was filed to the date
of the Magistrate or District Judge’s Order and Judgment.
Id. at *5-6.
The undersigned finds, based on the Lucy decision, that the
formula utilized by the Court in Lucy is the proper method in this
District for determining the attorney fee rate in cases such as these.
The Complaint in this action was prepared and filed on February 25,
2013, and the Order and Judgment were issued by the undersigned on
March 25, 2014.
(Docs. 1, 19, 20).
The number of days between those
two dates is 393; thus making September 9, 2013, the “temporal
midpoint” between those two dates.
The CPI-U for September of 2013
Plugging the relevant numbers into the foregoing formula
calculation yields an hourly rate, adjusted for “cost of living”
increases, of $186.90.
Accordingly, based on the formula set forth
in Lucy, the undersigned finds that an hourly rate of $186.90 is
Reasonableness of Hours
With regard to the reasonableness of the hours claimed by
Plaintiff’s attorney, “[t]he fee applicant bears the burden of
establishing entitlement and documenting the appropriate hours and
Plaintiff has requested an hourly rate of $186.00, as opposed to
$186.90. (Doc. 21 at 1). Because the difference in the calculation
using these two rates is de minimis, the Court will simply apply the
rate requested by Plaintiff.
Norman v. Housing Auth. of City of Montgomery, 836
F.2d 1292, 1303 (11th Cir. 1988).
“[T]he measure of reasonable hours
is determined by the profession’s judgment of the time that may be
conscionably billed and not the least time in which it might
theoretically have been done.”
Id. at 1306.
In the case sub judice, Plaintiff has attached to her motion
a time sheet detailing the description of work performed, the time
expended, and the date on which the work was performed.
(Doc. 21 at
The undersigned has reviewed this document and has considered
the circumstances presented, as well as the usual number of hours
billed by attorneys in similar actions.
See, e.g., Carter v. Astrue,
2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132089, *4-5, 2012 WL 4077289, *2 (M.D. Fla.
Sept. 17, 2012) (awarding attorney’s fees under the EAJA and finding
14 hours of attorney time in a social security case to be reasonable).
The Court agrees that 5.0 hours is a reasonable number of hours for
attorney time expended representing Plaintiff in federal court.
Thus, considering 5.0 hours of work performed at a rate of $186.00
per hour, Plaintiff is entitled to attorney’s fees of $930.00.
Therefore, upon consideration of the pertinent pleadings, the
undersigned Magistrate Judge finds that Plaintiff’s Application For
Attorneys Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act is due to be
and hereby is GRANTED, and Plaintiff is hereby AWARDED a reasonable
attorney’s fee in the amount of $930.00 under the EAJA for legal
services rendered by her attorney in this Court.
DONE this 9th day of July, 2014.
/s/ SONJA F. BIVINS
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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