Villagra v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER granting 23 Unopposed Motion for Attorney's Fees. Attorney fees totaling $6,152.21 and costs totaling $402.00 are awarded to Plaintiff. The Clerk of Court is directed to enter an amended judgment. Signed by Magistrate Judge Douglas N. Frazier on 11/17/2022. (brh)
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
ROSANNA E. VILLAGRA,
Case No.: 3:21-cv-1260-DNF
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
OPINION AND ORDER
This cause is before the Court on Plaintiff Rossana E. Villagra’s Unopposed
Motion for Attorney’s Fees (Doc. 23). Plaintiff requests that the Court enter an order
awarding attorney fees in the amount of $6,152.21 and costs in the amount of
$402.00 pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d).
For the reasons explained below, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s request is due to be
In order for Plaintiff to receive an award of fees under EAJA, the following
five conditions must be established: (1) Plaintiff must file a timely application for
attorney fees; (2) Plaintiff’s net worth must have been less than $2 million dollars at
the time the Complaint was filed; (3) Plaintiff must be the prevailing party in a nontort suit involving the United States; (4) The position of the United States must not
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have been substantially justified; and (5) There must be no special circumstances
that would make the award unjust. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d); Comm’r, I.N.S. v. Jean, 496
U.S. 154, 158 (1990). The Commissioner does not contest that the five conditions
are met. Therefore, all the conditions for EAJA fees have been satisfied.
EAJA fees are determined under the “lodestar” method by determining 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 that it is the reasonable fee. City of Burlington v. Daque,
505 U.S. 557, 562 (1992). Plaintiff’s counsel spent a total of 26.8 hours in EAJA
related representation of Plaintiff before this Court. (Doc. 23, p. 1; Doc. 23-4). After
reviewing the description of services provided, the Court determines that 26.8 hours
is reasonable in this case.
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 that an
increase in the cost of living or a special factor justifies a higher fee. 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(2)(A). Determination of the appropriate hourly rate is thus 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
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litigation, and are not limited to rates specifically for social security cases. Watford
v. Heckler, 765 F.2d 1562, 1568 (11th Cir. 1985). Plaintiff is requesting an hourly
rate of $229.56, for counsel in this case. (Doc. 23 p. 1). The Court finds this hourly
rate is reasonable. Accordingly, the Court will award Plaintiff’s attorney fees
Plaintiff also requests $402.00 in costs for the filing fee. (Doc. 23, p. 1).
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412 and as enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920, this filing-fee
cost is permitted to be awarded to the prevailing party. Therefore, the Court awards
$402.00 in costs.
Plaintiff attached a Retainer Agreement and Assignment agreement. (Doc. 235). In the Agreement, Plaintiff agrees to assign all awarded EAJA fees to Plaintiff’s
counsel. (Doc. 23-5). Thus, the fees awarded should be paid directly to counsel if
the United States Department of Treasury determines that no federal debt is owed
Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED:
Plaintiff’s Unopposed Motion for Attorney’s Fees (Doc. 23) is
Attorney fees totaling $6,152.21 and costs totaling $402.00 are awarded
to Plaintiff. The attorney fees and costs may be paid directly to
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Plaintiff’s counsel if the United States Department of the Treasury
determines that Plaintiff owes no federal debt.
The Clerk of Court is directed to enter an amended judgment.
DONE and ORDERED in Fort Myers, Florida on November 17, 2022.
Copies furnished to:
Counsel of Record
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