Duhon v. Social Security Administration
ORDER granting 15 Motion for Attorney Fees in the total sum of $4,826.70, pursuant to the EAJA. The Commissioner is directed to certify said award and pay Plaintiff (in care of his attorney) in this amount. Signed by Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney on 5/9/13. (kpr)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
JAMES SCOTT DUHON,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner, Social Security
Case No. 4:12-CV-00439 JTK
ORDER AWARDING ATTORNEY’S FEES
On February 12, 2013, the Court entered an Order granting Defendant’s motion to
remand the decision of the Commissioner and for further proceedings. (Doc. No. 13). Plaintiff
has filed a motion for attorney’s fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act
(EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. He seeks compensation for 40.9 hours of work performed at a rate of
$183.11 per hour and for expenses in the amount of $26.70. This totals to $7,515.90. The
Commissioner does not oppose the motion.
The Court can determine the reasonableness and accuracy of a fee request, even in the
absence of an objection by the Commissioner. See Decker v. Sullivan, 976 F.2d 456, 459 (8th
Cir. 1992) (“Although the issue was not raised on appeal, fairness to the parties requires an
accurately calculated attorney’s fee award.”). “The district court should . . . exclude from [the]
fee calculation hours that were not reasonably expended.” Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
434 (1983) (internal quotations and citation omitted). “If the preparation time is ‘excessive,’ the
number of compensable hours may be reduced.” McMullen v. Apfel, 57 F. Supp. 2d 773, 774
(S.D. Iowa 1999).
A review of counsel’s itemization indicates the request should be reduced. For instance,
counsel repeatedly lists multiple same-day entries at .1 hours for activities that could not have
taken that long when added together. Separating them in this manner inflates the time that is
Many of these small entries also appear to be “clerical in nature and cannot be
compensated under the EAJA.” Mallard v. Astrue, 10-2173, 2012 WL 3560792, *2 (W.D. Ark.
Aug. 17, 2012); see also Granville House, Inc. v. Dep’t of HEW, 813 F.2d 881, 884 (8th Cir.
1987) (work which could have been completed by support staff is not compensable under the
It is an excessive expenditure of time to spend 1.2 hours preparing the complaint and
another .6 hours reviewing the letters with summons. “This is an entirely mechanical procedure.
It is doubtful that having all three letters prepared and signed would take .25 hours of attorney
time. Certainly it should not have taken three quarters of an hour.” Bowman v. Sec’y of H.H.S.,
744 F. Supp. 898, 899 (E.D. Ark. 1989). This work has also been rejected as clerical work by
other courts. See Mallard, 2012 WL 3560792. Further, it is unwarranted to bill the 3.8 hours that
were expended deciding whether to take the case and speaking with the client, which all occurred
before the complaint ever began being drafted.
Counsel’s use of 1.6 hours to prepare and file the fee request is also excessive. The
motion for fees and its accompanying documents should reasonably take little effort or time to
prepare because identical filings are routinely prepared in the course of counsel’s practice. Very
few changes needed to be made, and the only truly unique portion was the two-page itemization
of the time that was expended.
Finally, the 30.2 hours spent in the brief’s creation is extremely high. The Court
recognizes the high quality of its content, but this amount of time was excessive given the issues
presented and counsel’s experience.
IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that Plaintiff is awarded attorney’s fees in the amount of
$4,800.00, together with expenses in the amount of $26.70, for a total of $4,826.70, pursuant to
the EAJA. The Commissioner is directed to certify said award and pay Plaintiff (in care of his
attorney) in this amount.
SO ORDERED this 9th day of May, 2013.
United States Magistrate Judge
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