Tindle v. Astrue

Filing 29

ORDER that Plaintiff's 27 Motion for Attorney's Fees is DENIED without prejudice. Signed by Magistrate Judge Lawrence O Anderson on 7/18/2012. (LFIG)

Download PDF
1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of the) ) Social Security Administration, ) ) Defendant. ) Wanda Tindle, No. CV-11-907-PHX-LOA ORDER 15 This case arises on Plaintiff’s Bill of Costs, seeking attorney’s fees, which the Clerk 16 denied as “not taxable under LRCiv. 54.1.” (Docs. 27-28) The Clerk construed Plaintiff’s Bill 17 of Costs “as a motion under LRCiv. 54.2 for review by the assigned judge.” (Doc. 28) 18 On May 21, 2012, the Court reversed the Commissioner’s decision and remanded this 19 case to the ALJ for further proceedings consistent with this order. The Court did not, however, 20 remand for benefits because “[t]here may be evidence in the record to which the [ALJ] can point 21 to provide the requisite specific and legitimate reasons for disregarding” the opinion of 22 Plaintiff’s treating physician, citing McAllister v. Sullivan, 889 F.2d 599, 603 (9th Cir. 1989). 23 (Doc. 25 at 10-11) Plaintiff’s attorney filed a Bill of Costs on June 14, 2012. (Doc. 27) At this 24 point, there has been no final determination to Plaintiff’s right to benefits. 25 A party does not become a “prevailing party” under the Equal Access to Justice Act 26 (“EAJA”), even if the only relief sought by claimant is remand for additional evidence. See, 27 e.g. McGill v. Seacretary of Health and Human Servs., 712, F.2d 28, 30 (2nd Cir. 1983). Rather, 28 the Second Circuit pointed out that case law “demonstrates that a social security claimant whose 1 case is remanded to the Secretary for further evidence is not a prevailing party.” Id. at 31. The 2 court concluded that “a social security claimant prevails when it is determined that she is 3 entitled to benefits.” Id. at 31-32; see also Brown v. Secretary of Health and Human Servs., 747, 4 F.2d 878, 881, 885 (3rd Cir. 1984) (holding that a claimant who obtains remand for further 5 administrative hearing is not a prevailing party entitled to fees at that juncture under the EAJA); 6 Welter v. Sullivan, 941 F.2d 674, 675 (8th Cir. 1991) (finding that district court’s order 7 returning cases to Secretary for further administrative proceedings due to legal and factual 8 errors were not final “judgment[s] . . . modifying or reversing the decision[s] of the Secretary.”) 9 (citation omitted). In the present case, final judgment has not been entered and any motion for 10 an award of attorney’s fees is premature. Plaintiff and the claimants in Welter do “not become 11 prevailing parties eligible for attorney’s fees until the Secretary reevaluated their cases and 12 awarded them benefits[,]” citing Sullivan v. Hudson, 490 U.S. 877, 884-85(1989). 13 If on remand Plaintiff is awarded benefits, Plaintiff may request an award of 14 attorney’s fees from this Court “within thirty days of final judgment in the action.” 28 U.S.C. 15 § 2412(d)(1)(B); Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89, 96 (1991) (“[W]e hold that a ‘final 16 judgment’ for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B) means a judgment rendered by a court that 17 terminates the civil action for which EAJA fees may be received. The 30-day EAJA clock 18 begins to run after the time to appeal that ‘final judgment’ has expired.”); Akopyan v. Barnhart, 19 296 F.3d 852, 854 (9th Cir. 2002). The Court hereby expressly retains jurisdiction of this case 20 to consider a timely request for an award of attorney’s fees. Brown, 747 F.2d at 884. 21 Accordingly, 22 IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney’s Fees, doc. 27, is DENIED 23 24 without prejudice. Dated this 18th day of July, 2012. 25 26 27 28 -2-

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?