Moya v. Astrue

Filing 19

ORDER granting 16 Motion for Attorney Fees. Plaintiff is awarded $6,762.02 in fees and $350.00 in costs. We reject plaintiff's request that the award of fees be paid directly to her lawyer based on an executed assignment of her right to EAJA fees. (See document for further details). Signed by Senior Judge Frederick J Martone on 11/4/13. (LAD)

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 15 ) ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) vs. ) ) Carolyn W. Colvin, Commissioner of) ) Social Security, ) ) Defendant. ) ) Crystal A. Moya, No. CV-12-01659-PHX-FJM ORDER 16 The court has before it plaintiff’s motion for an award of attorney’s fees (doc. 16), 17 defendant’s response (doc. 17), and plaintiff’s reply (doc. 18). 18 On July 11, 2013, we entered an order reversing the decision of the Commissioner and 19 remanding the case for further administrative proceedings, in light of our conclusion that the 20 ALJ erred in characterizing plaintiff’s past relevant work and in failing to provide clear and 21 convincing reasons for rejecting plaintiff’s treating physician’s opinion. Plaintiff now moves 22 for an award of attorney’s fees in the amount of $6,762.02 under the Equal Access to Justice 23 Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412 (“EAJA”) and reimbursement of costs in the amount of $350.00. 24 Under 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A), a party prevailing against the United States is 25 entitled to an award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs if the position of the United 26 States was not “substantially justified.” It is the government’s burden to show substantial 27 justification. Gutierrez v. Barnhart, 274 F.3d 1255, 1258 (9th Cir. 2001). The government’s 28 1 position is substantially justified when it has a reasonable basis in both law and fact. Lewis 2 v. Barnhart, 281 F.3d 1081, 1083 (9th Cir. 2002). We look to both “the position taken by the 3 United States in the civil action, [and] the action or failure to act by the agency upon which 4 the civil action is based.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(D). 5 With respect to the first issue, the vocational expert classified the exertional levels for 6 the dental assistant and office manager parts of plaintiff’s former job as light and sedentary, 7 respectively. Nevertheless, the ALJ considered only the sedentary office manager functions 8 and improperly concluded that plaintiff could perform her past relevant work. This 9 conclusion was not substantially justified. Moreover, the government’s litigation defending 10 11 12 the ALJ’s error also lacked substantial justification. With respect to the second issue, the ALJ gave no specific reason for rejecting Dr. Finley’s opinion. This was also error without substantial justification. 13 Therefore, IT IS ORDERED GRANTING plaintiff’s motion for an award of 14 attorney’s fees and costs under the EAJA (doc. 16). Plaintiff is awarded $6,762.02 in fees 15 and $350.00 in costs. 16 We reject plaintiff’s request that the award of fees be paid directly to her lawyer based 17 on an executed assignment of her right to EAJA fees. Fees awarded under the EAJA are 18 subject to a federal administrative offset if the litigant has outstanding federal debts. Astrue 19 v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, ___, 130 S. Ct. 2521, 2527 (2010). We do not know whether 20 plaintiff owes a debt that is subject to offset. The Commissioner has indicated that after 21 receiving our fee order, it will determine whether plaintiff has assigned her right to EAJA 22 fees to her attorney and whether plaintiff owes a debt that is subject to offset. If no debt is 23 owed and a valid assignment is in place, the Commissioner will make the 24 award check payable to plaintiff’s counsel. 25 DATED this 4th day of November, 2013. 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?