Frye v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER awarding Attorney Fees in the amount of $2924.80. Signed by Honorable James R. Marschewski on March 12, 2014. (lw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
DAVID GLEN FRYE
CIVIL NO. 13-2028
CAROLYN W. COLVIN1, Commissioner
Social Security Administration
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pending now before this Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney Fees Under the Equal
Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”). ECF No. 15. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of
a magistrate judge to conduct any and all proceedings in this case, and pursuant to said authority,
the Court issues this Order. ECF No. 6.
On February 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion for attorney’s fees and costs under 28
U.S.C. § 2412, the Equal Access to Justice Act (hereinafter “EAJA”) requesting $3,064.80,
representing a total of 15.20 attorney hours at a rate of $174.00 per hour and 5.60 paralegal hours
at an hourly rate of $50.00. ECF No. 15-2. On July 31, 2013, the Defendant filed a response
voicing no objections to Plaintiff’s request for fees. ECF No. 17. However, Defendant did object
to Plaintiff’s request that the EAJA award be paid directly to Plaintiff’s attorney. (Def.’s Br. 2.)
It is the opinion of the undersigned that the Plaintiff is entitled to a fee award in this case,
as he is the prevailing party, the government’s decision to deny benefits was not “substantially
justified”, the hourly rate requested for both attorney and paralegal hours does not exceed the CPI
for either year in question, and the time asserted to have been spent in the representation of the
Carolyn W. Colvin became the Social Security Commissioner on February 14, 2013. Pursuant to Rule
25(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Carolyn W. Colvin has been substituted for Commissioner
Michael J. Astrue as the defendant in this suit.
Plaintiff before the district court is reasonable. See Jackson v. Bowen, 807 F.2d 127, 128 (8th
Cir. 1986) (burden is on the Commissioner to show substantial justification for the government’s
denial of benefits); Johnson v. Sullivan, 919 F.2d 503 (8th Cir. 1990) (the hourly rate may be
increased when there is “uncontested proof of an increase in the cost of living sufficient to justify
hourly attorney’s fees of more than $75.00 an hour); and Allen v. Heckler, 588 F.Supp. 1247
(W.D.N.Y. 1984) (in determining reasonableness, court looks at time and labor required; the
difficulty of questions involved; the skill required to handle the problems presented; the attorney's
experience, ability, and reputation; the benefits resulting to the client from the services; the
customary fee for similar services; the contingency or certainty of compensation; the results
obtained; and, the amount involved).
However, there appears to be a mathematical error in Plaintiff’s calculations. Plaintiff
indicates that 5.60 hours of paralegal time billed at $50.00 per hour results in a paralegal bill total
of $420.00. The correct amount is $280.00. Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to an attorney’s fee
award under EAJA in the amount of $2,924.80.
Pursuant to Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S.Ct. 2521, 2528 (2010), the EAJA fee award should
be made payable to Plaintiff. However, as a matter of practice, an EAJA fee made payable to
Plaintiff may properly be mailed to Plaintiff’s counsel. Plaintiff requested that fees be submitted
directly to the attorney and submitted a “Limited Power of Attorney and Assignment” document
in which Plaintiff agreed to assign any EAJA fees to counsel. (Pl.’s Doc. 18-6.) Plaintiff
submitted no legal argument in support of this proposed departure from Ratliff. Therefore, this
Court is persuaded for the reasons stated in Defendant’s well-supported brief that a departure is
The parties should be reminded that the award herein under the EAJA will be taken into
account at such time as a reasonable fee is determined pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 406, in order to
prevent double recovery by counsel for the Plaintiff.
Based upon the foregoing, the Court awards Plaintiff $2,924.80 pursuant to the EAJA,
28 U.S.C. § 2412.
Dated this 12th day of March 2014.
/s/ J. Marschewski
HON. JAMES R. MARSCHEWSKI
CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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