Christensen v. Commissioner of Social Security

Filing 29

ORDER granting 25 Motion for Attorney Fees signed by Magistrate Judge Allison Claire on 7/18/17. (Kaminski, H)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 KARL E. CHRISTIANSEN, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 No. 2:15-cv-02658-AC v. ORDER NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, 16 Defendant. 17 Plaintiff Karl E. Christiansen commenced this social security action on December 23, 18 19 2015. ECF Nos. 1-3.1 On March 9, 2017, the court granted plaintiff’s motion for summary 20 judgment, denied the Commissioner’s cross-motion for summary judgment, and remanded the 21 case for further proceedings pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and entered 22 judgment for plaintiff. ECF Nos. 23, 24. Presently pending before the court is plaintiff’s motion 23 for attorneys’ fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”). ECF No. 25. The 24 Commissioner filed a response to plaintiff’s motion. ECF No. 28. Plaintiff did not file a reply. 25 After considering the parties’ briefing and the applicable law, the court grants plaintiff’s motion 26 27 28 1 This case was referred to the undersigned pursuant to E.D. Cal. L.R. 302(c)(15) and both parties voluntarily consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). ECF No. 11. 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 for EAJA fees. The EAJA provides, in part, that: Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, a court shall award to a prevailing party other than the United States fees and other expenses, in addition to any costs awarded pursuant to subsection (a), incurred by that party in any civil action (other than cases sounding in tort), including proceedings for judicial review of agency action, brought by or against the United States in any court having jurisdiction of that action, unless the court finds that the position of the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust. A party seeking an award of fees and other expenses shall, within thirty days of final judgment in the action, submit to the court an application for fees and other expenses which shows that the party is a prevailing party and is eligible to receive an award under this subsection, and the amount sought, including an itemized statement from any attorney or expert witness representing or appearing in behalf of the party stating the actual time expended and the rate at which fees and other expenses were computed. The party shall also allege that the position of the United States was not substantially justified. Whether or not the position of the United States was substantially justified shall be determined on the basis of the record (including the record with respect to the action or failure to act by the agency upon which the civil action is based) which is made in the civil action for which fees and other expenses are sought. The court, in its discretion may reduce the amount to be awarded pursuant to this subsection, or deny an award, to the extent that the prevailing party during the course of the proceedings engaged in conduct which unduly and unreasonably protracted the final resolution of the matter in controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A)-(C). Here, the Commissioner does not dispute that plaintiff is a prevailing party, because he 21 successfully obtained a remand for further proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 22 405(g). Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 300-02 (1993). The Commissioner does not dispute 23 the amount of fees request; instead, the Commissioner only disputes plaintiff’s request that the 24 award be made directly to plaintiff’s attorney, rather than to plaintiff. ECF No. 28 at 1-2. 25 Therefore, the court will award plaintiff EAJA attorneys’ fees in the full amount of 26 $4,059.35. The Commissioner is correct that the EAJA award must be made by this court to 27 plaintiff, and not to counsel. See Astrue v. Ratliffe, 130 S. Ct. 2521 (2010). Nevertheless, if the 28 government determines that plaintiff does not owe a federal debt that qualifies for offset, payment 2 1 may be made in the name of plaintiff’s attorney. 2 Accordingly, for the reasons outlined above, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 3 1. Plaintiff’s motion for attorneys’ fees under the EAJA (ECF No. 25) is GRANTED. 4 2. Plaintiff is awarded attorneys’ fees in the total amount of $4,059.35 pursuant to the 5 EAJA. If the government determines that plaintiff does not owe a federal debt that 6 qualifies for offset, payment may be made in the name of plaintiff’s attorney. 7 8 IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: July 18, 2017 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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?