ROBERTS v. ASTRUE
ORDER granting 17 Motion for Attorney Fees. IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff receive $8,734.31 in attorneys fees. Ordered by Judge C. Ashley Royal on 6/20/13 (lap)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Commissioner of Social Security,
No. 3:12‐CV‐16 (CAR)
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF=S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY=S FEES
This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Gary Robert’s Motion for
Attorney=s Fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). [Doc. 17]. On January 9,
2013, this Court reversed the Commissioner’s decision in this matter and remanded it to
the administrative level for further proceedings. Because the Court entered Judgment
in Plaintiff’s favor, Plaintiff filed the current Motion for attorney’s fees. Plaintiff
requests $8,734.31 in attorneys’ fees, for 47.35 hours of attorney work done in 2012 and
2013, at hourly rates using the EAJA cap of $125 per hour adjusted for inflation using the
Urban Consumer Price Index (CPI‐U) published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The
Commissioner objects to the number of hours claimed. [Doc. 18]. Having considered
the parties’ arguments and the relevant law, and for the reasons explained herein, the
Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff=s Motion [Doc. 17] and awards attorney=s fees in the
amount set forth below.
STANDARD FOR AWARDING EAJA ATTORNEY’S FEES
The Equal Access to Justice Act (AEAJA@) allows a civil litigant who prevails in a
civil action against the United States to recover attorney’s fees unless the position of the
United States was substantially justified.1 Specifically, the EAJA provides that:
[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.2
The statute further provides that awards of attorney’s fees shall be based on prevailing
market rates for comparable services, but that fees in excess of $125 per hour shall not be
awarded “unless the court determines that an increase in the cost of living or a special
factor, such as the limited availability of qualified attorneys for the proceedings
involved, justifies a higher fee.”3
In this case, no dispute exists over whether an award of attorney=s fees is justified.
The Commissioner opposes the request for attorney’s fees only to the extent of the
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).
3 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A).
number of hours claimed.
The Commissioner contends that certain hours of attorney work are excessive and
redundant and therefore unreasonable for this case. First, the Commissioner requests
that the Court deduct at least 10 hours from the 25.15 hours spent preparing the brief in
support of Plaintiff’s appeal arguing that (1) the hours are excessive in light of counsel’s
30 years’ of legal experience and purported expertise in the field of social security; and
(2) the medical history and legal issues are not novel or complex. Second, the
Commissioner requests the Court deduct 4 hours from the 9.5 hours spent preparing the
reply brief arguing the brief was predominantly a restatement of the Commissioner’s
arguments and a reiteration of several arguments made in the original brief. Finally,
the Commissioner requests that the Court deduct the entire 3.8 hours billed by another
attorney for reviewing and revising the initial brief and the reply brief. In sum, the
Commissioner submits that deducting the above 17.8 hours from the 47.35 total attorney
work hours would total 27.35 which is a reasonable number of hours spent working on
The district court is responsible for excluding any unnecessary work from the fee
award.4 “A court may reduce excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary hours in
Norman v. Hous. Auth. of City of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1301-02 (11th Cir. 1988).
the exercise of billing judgment.”5 While an attorney “may not be compensated for
hours spent on activities for which he would not bill a client of means who was seriously
intent on vindicating similar rights,” there “is nothing inherently unreasonable about a
client having multiple attorneys, and they may all be compensated if they are not
unreasonably doing the same work and are being compensated for the distinct
contribution of each lawyer.”6
The Court finds the total number of attorney work hours spent on this case is
reasonable. The affidavits of Plaintiff’s counsel show each of the attorneys to be
competent, with significant experience in representing clientele in Social Security cases.
Counsel maintains that each hour worked on this case was necessary and reasonable.
The administrative record in this case was over 600 pages, which counsel thoroughly
summarized for the Court. The affidavits thoroughly document the hours spent on this
case and sufficiently describe the expended hours. Moreover, the 3.8 hours spent by one
of Plaintiff’s attorneys reviewing and revising briefs originally drafted by another
attorney is not excessive; indeed, it is a common practice reasonably billed to a paying
Perkins v. Mobile Hous. Bd., 847 F.2d 735, 738 (11th Cir. 1988).
Norman, 836 F.2d at 1301-02.
In accordance with the foregoing, Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorney=s Fees [Doc. 17]
is GRANTED, and IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff receive $8,734.31 in attorneys’ fees.
SO ORDERED this 20th day of June, 2013.
S/ C. Ashley Royal
C. ASHLEY ROYAL, JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
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?