Cowell v. Social Security Administration Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER; Plaintiff is awarded Attorney's Fees in the amount of $5,605.95 pursuant to the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412. Signed by Honorable P. K. Holmes, III on January 17, 2017. (hnc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
FORT SMITH DIVISION
JANET L. COWELL
CIVIL NO. 2:15-cv-2182-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 No. 17, 18. The Defendant filed a response objecting to
the hourly rate requested for work performed in 2016. ECF No. 19. The matter is now ripe for
On July 6, 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 $5,629.95 representing a
total of 5.85 attorney hours for work performed in 2015 at an hourly rate of $187.00 and 24.00
attorney hours for work performed in 2016 at an hourly rate of $189.00. ECF No. 17-1. On July
20, 2016, the Defendant filed a response requesting that the hourly rate awarded for attorney
hours performed in 2016 be reduced to $188.00. ECF No. 19.
The Court finds 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,”
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). However, the Court agrees that the hourly rate requested for 2016 is excessive and
should be reduced to $188.00, for a total EAJA award in the amount of $5,605.95.
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.
Based upon the foregoing, Plaintiff is awarded the sum of $5,605.95 for attorney’s fees
pursuant to the EAJA, 28 U.S.C. § 2412.
Dated this 17th day of January, 2017.
P. K. HOLMES, III
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
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