Sartin v. Kijakazi
ORDER granting re 20 Motion for Attorney Fees. The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiffs motion and awards attorneys fees in the amount of $11,078.58. Signed by Magistrate Judge Brian K. Epps on 8/2/22. (loh)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
AISHA NICOLE SARTIN,
KILOLO KIJAKAZI, Acting Commissioner )
of Social Security Administration,
On April 25, 2022, Chief United States District Judge J. Randal Hall, granted a
reversal and remand pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and a judgment was
entered in Plaintiff’s favor. (Doc. nos. 18, 19.) Plaintiff now moves, under the Equal Access
to Justice Act (“EAJA”) and pursuant to an agreement reached with Defendant, for
$11,078.58 in attorney’s fees. (Doc. no. 20.)
In Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, 589 (2010), the Supreme Court held, based on the
“plain text” of 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d), that an EAJA award “is payable to the litigant and is
therefore subject to a Government offset to satisfy a pre-existing debt that the litigant owes
the United States.” Based on Ratliff, the proper course is to “award the EAJA fees directly
to Plaintiff as the prevailing party and remain silent regarding the direction of payment of
those fees.” Bostic v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 858 F. Supp. 2d 1301, 1306 (M.D. Fla. 2011).
Indeed, this approach has been followed in this District. See Shank v. Berryhill, CV 116030, doc. no. 20 (S.D. Ga. May 24, 2017) (awarding EAJA fees to plaintiff without directing
payment to counsel despite plaintiff’s assignment of award to counsel); Brown v. Astrue, CV
411-152, doc. no. 24 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 4, 2013) (same); Scott v. Colvin, CV 313-004, doc. no.
26 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 11, 2013) (same).
In accord with this practice, the Court awards the EAJA fees to Plaintiff, subject to
offset by any debt owed by Plaintiff to the United States. The Court leaves it “to the
discretion of the government to accept Plaintiff’s assignment of EAJA Fees and pay fees
directly to Plaintiff[’s] counsel after a determination that Plaintiff does not owe a federal
debt.” Bostic, 858 F. Supp. 2d at 1306; see also Robinson v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 8:13CV-2073-T-23TGW, 2015 WL 176027, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 13, 2015) (allowing EAJA fees
“to be paid by virtue of a fee assignment, to plaintiff’s counsel by the defendant if the
plaintiff does not owe a debt to the United States Department of the Treasury”); Griffin v.
Astrue, 1:10cv115, 2010 WL 5211548, at *3 (W.D.N.C. Dec. 16, 2010) (“There is nothing in
Ratliff to indicate that it is intended to divest the government of its discretion to enter into
direct payment arrangements where there is no debt to the government or where funds
remain after satisfaction of such debt.”). The Court therefore GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion,
(doc. no. 20), and awards attorney’s fees in the amount of $11,078.58.
SO ORDERED this 2nd day of August, 2022, at Augusta, Georgia.
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?