Christie v. Commissioner of Social Security
ORDER granting 25 Motion for Attorney's Fees. See Order for details. Signed by Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington on 9/15/2014. (KAK)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
This cause comes before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff
Diana Christie's Unopposed Motion for Award of Attorney's Fees
Pursuant to Equal Access to Justice Act 28 U.S.C. § 2412 (Doc.
# 25), filed on
September 10, 2014.
Plaintiff is seeking an
award of $1,487.84 in attorney's fees and is not seeking an
award of costs. For the reasons that follow, the Court grants
Eligibility for Award of Fees
The Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. §
2412, requires an award of attorney's fees and costs to any
party prevailing in litigation against the United States,
including proceedings for judicial review of Social Security
Administration Agency action, unless the Court determines that
the position of the United States was substantially justified
or that special circumstances exist and make an award unjust.
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).
attorney's fees against the government provided the party
meets five requirements: (1) the party seeking the award is
the prevailing party; (2) the application for such fees,
including an itemized justification for the amount sought, is
timely filed; (3) the claimant had a net worth of less than $2
million at the time the complaint was filed; (4) the position
of the government was not substantially justified; and (5)
there are no special circumstances which would make an award
See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1) and (2).
The Judgment in this case reversed the final decision of
consideration pursuant to sentence four of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. #
"[A] party who wins a
sentence-four remand order is a prevailing party." Shalala v.
Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 302 (1993). Thus, Plaintiff qualifies
as the prevailing party in this action.
application for attorney's fees within thirty days of final
judgment in the action. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B).
requirement has been met here.
As explained by Plaintiff:
"This case was remanded upon order of this Court July 11,
4(a)(1)(B), either party has 60 days to file an appeal.
judgment is final and non-appealable 61 days from July 11,
2014 or on September 10, 2014." (Doc. # 25 at 3).
application is timely filed.
Claimant's Net Worth
Christie's net worth was less than $2 million at the time this
action was filed (Id. at 1), and the Commissioner does not
contest this assertion.
Accordingly, the Court finds this
requirement to be satisfied.
Lack of Substantial Justification
The burden of proving substantial justification is on the
government. Stratton v. Bowen, 827 F.2d 1447, 1450 (11th Cir.
"Therefore, unless the Commissioner comes forth and
satisfies his burden, the government's position will be deemed
not substantially justified." Kimble ex rel. A.G.K. v. Astrue,
No. 6:11-cv-1063, 2012 WL 5877547, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 20,
In this case, the Commissioner does not dispute the
issue of substantial justification.
Thus, the Court finds
No Special Circumstances
Finally, the Commissioner has not made a claim that any
special circumstances exist that countenance against the
awarding of fees.
Accordingly, the Court finds no special
circumstances indicating an award of fees would be unjust.
Amount of Fees
Having determined Plaintiff is eligible for an award of
fees under the EAJA, the Court now turns to the reasonableness
of the amount of fees sought.
Plaintiff requests an award of
$1,487.84 in attorney's fees, representing 1 hour at an hourly
rate of $183.11 in 2012, and 7 hours at the hourly rate of
$186.39 in 2013.
The amount of attorney's fees to be awarded "shall be
based upon the prevailing market rates for the kind and
quality of the service furnished," except that attorney's fees
shall not exceed $125 per hour unless the Court determines an
increase in the cost of living or a "special factor" justifies
a higher fee award.
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A)(ii).
The Court determines the requested hourly rates are
appropriate. Here, the proposed hourly rates are $183.11 in
2012, and $186.39 in 2013. The Commissioner does not oppose
Plaintiff's proposed hourly rates. Thus, the Court will adopt
Copies: All Counsel of Record
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