Williams v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER granting 21 Unopposed Petition for EAJA Fees and the Court awards Plaintiff $3,276.08 in attorney and paralegal fees. This award will be paid directly to Plaintiff's counsel if the United States Department of Treasury determ ines that no federal debt is owed by Plaintiff. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and against the Commissioner in the amount of $3,276.08 in attorney and paralegal fees. Signed by Magistrate Judge Kyle C. Dudek on 5/19/2023. (CGW)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FORT MYERS DIVISION
BRIDGET ANN WILLIAMS,
Case No.: 2:22-cv-495-KCD
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
Plaintiff Bridget Ann Williams requests a fee and cost award under the
Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). (Doc. 21.)1 The Commissioner
does not object to the relief sought. The Court thus grants the motion.
Earlier in this case, the Court entered an order (Doc. 19) reversing and
remanding the Commissioner’s decision. Thus, under EAJA, Plaintiff moves
for an award of $3,276.08 in fees.
For Plaintiff to receive a fee and cost award under EAJA, these five
conditions must be met: (1) she must file a timely application for attorney’s
fees; (2) her net worth must have been less than $2 million dollars when the
complaint was filed; (3) she must be the prevailing party in a non-tort suit
Unless otherwise indicated, all internal quotation marks, citations, and alterations have
been omitted in this and later citations.
involving the United States; (4) the position of the United States must not have
been substantially justified; and (5) there must be no special circumstances
that would make the award unjust. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1) & (2); Comm’r, I.N.S.
v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 158 (1990). Considering the motion, and with no
opposition, the Court finds all conditions of EAJA have been met.
EAJA fees are determined under the “lodestar” method—the number of
hours reasonably expended on the matter multiplied by a reasonable hourly
rate. Jean v. Nelson, 863 F.2d 759, 773 (11th Cir. 1988). The resulting fee
carries a strong presumption of reasonableness. City of Burlington v. Daque,
505 U.S. 557, 562 (1992). After review of the services provided, the Court finds
the hours expended by the attorneys and paralegals that worked on this case
(17.4 hours) are reasonable. (Docs. 21-1.)
EAJA fees are “based upon prevailing market rates for the kind and
quality of services furnished,” not to exceed $125 per hour unless the Court
determines an increase in the cost of living, or a special factor justifies a higher
fee. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A). Thus, determining the appropriate hourly rate
is a two-step process. The Court first determines the prevailing market rate;
then, if the prevailing rate exceeds $125.00, the Court determines whether to
adjust the hourly rate. Meyer v. Sullivan, 958 F.2d 1029, 1033-34 (11th Cir.
1992). The prevailing market rates must be determined according to rates
customarily charged for similarly complex litigation and are not limited to
rates specifically for social security cases. Watford v. Heckler, 765 F.2d 1562,
1568 (11th Cir. 1985). For attorneys, Plaintiff requests an hourly rate of
$235.25; for paralegals, Plaintiff requests an hourly rate of $75. (Doc. 21-1.)
After review, and considering the rates are uncontested, the Court finds they
Plaintiff also filed a “Contingent Fee Agreement.” (Doc. 21-2.) It
provides: “I hereby assign my rights in any fees payable to me under the EAJA
to my attorneys.” (Id.) But Plaintiff acknowledges that after awarding EAJA
fees, the Commissioner will determine whether she owes a federal debt to the
Government. If no debt is owed, the Government will accept Plaintiff’s
assignment, and the fees will be paid directly to counsel. (Doc. 21 at 4.) Thus,
the fees awarded should be paid directly to counsel if the United States
Department of Treasury determines that no federal debt is owed by Plaintiff.
It is thus ORDERED:
1. Plaintiff’s Unopposed Petition for EAJA Fees (Doc. 21) is GRANTED
and the Court awards Plaintiff $3,276.08 in attorney and paralegal
fees. This award will be paid directly to Plaintiff’s counsel if the
United States Department of Treasury determines that no federal
debt is owed by Plaintiff.
EAJA allows fees for paralegal services at prevailing market rates. Richlin Sec. Serv. Co. v.
Chertoff, 553 U.S. 571, 581 (2008).
2. The Clerk is directed to enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff and
against the Commissioner in the amount of $3,276.08 in attorney and
ORDERED in Fort Myers, Florida this May 19, 2023.
Copies: All Parties of Record
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