Maestri v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER awarding Attorney Fees in the amount of $4,616.10. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on November 29, 2016. (lw)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
DANA C. MAESTRI
CIVIL NO. 2:15-cv-2125-PKH
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, 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 Nos. 18, 19. The Defendant has filed a response, and the
matter is now ripe for resolution. ECF No. 20.
On November 14, 2016, 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 $4,616.10
representing a total of 22.80 attorney hours in 2015 and 2016 at an hourly rate of $187.00 and
4.70 paralegal hours at an hourly rate of $75.00. ECF No. 19-2. On November 21, 2016, the
Defendant filed a response voicing no objections to Plaintiff’s request for fees. ECF No. 20.
It is the opinion of the undersigned that the Plaintiff is entitled to a fee award in this case,
as she 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 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). Accordingly, the undersigned finds that the
Plaintiff is entitled to an attorney’s fee award under EAJA in the amount of $4,616.10.
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.
The parties are reminded that, in order to prevent double recovery by counsel for the
Plaintiff, 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.
Accordingly, the Plaintiff is awarded the sum of $4,616.10 for attorney’s fees pursuant to
the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412.
Dated this 29th day of November, 2016.
/s/ P. K. Holmes, III
P. K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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