Scotney v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM. Signed by Magistrate Judge Stephanie A Gallagher on 2/3/2015. (bmhs, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY
Civil Case No. SAG-14-161
This case has been referred to me by consent of the parties. [ECF No. 9]. Currently
pending is Plaintiff’s Motion for Attorneys’ Fee Under the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”). [ECF No. 21]. I have reviewed that motion, Defendant’s Opposition, and Plaintiff’s
Reply. [ECF Nos. 21, 22, 23]. For the reasons described below, Plaintiff’s Motion is Granted
In Part and Denied In Part, and fees will be awarded in the amount of $3,912.10.
The parties do not dispute that Plaintiff is entitled to fees under the EAJA, and they do
not dispute the validity of the 20.59 hours worked by Plaintiff’s counsel. The only dispute is the
appropriate hourly rate for calculating fees. Defendant contends that the appropriate rate is the
rate set forth in the EAJA statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A)(ii), which is $125.00 per hour plus
an increase for cost of living. Defendant provided a calculation of the appropriate cost of living
increase, which raises the statutory hourly rate to $190.00 per hour.
Plaintiff asserts that $475.00 would be an appropriate hourly rate for EAJA fees.
However, none of the purported authority Plaintiff cites supports her proposition. The cases
cited by Plaintiff determining “reasonable hourly rates” do not apply in the EAJA context, where
the hourly rate is set by statute. Moreover, Plaintiff makes the inexplicable contention that, “[t]o
reflect cost of living increases authorized by the EAJA, 28 USC § 2412(d)(2)(A), the United
States District Court for the District of Maryland has consistently applied the guideline rates
under its Appendix B of its Local Rules, Exhibit B, which are presumptively reasonable.” Pl.
Mot. 6 (citing Thompson v. U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Dev., Civil No. MGJ-95-309, 2002
WL 31777631 (D. Md. Nov. 21, 2002)). In fact, the Court in Thompson expressly found that the
EAJA was “not applicable,” to the request for attorney’s fees in that case, and thus calculated a
“reasonable attorney’s fee” using a traditional lodestar calculation. Id., at *2, *5-6. Plaintiff
repeatedly refers to Appendix B of the Local Rules as the “EAJA Guidelines,” despite the fact
that Appendix B makes no mention whatsoever of the EAJA and specifically states that it “does
not apply to cases in which statutes or contracts authorize fees based on a fixed percentage or
other formula, such as social security . . . cases.” See Loc. R. App. B, n.1 (D. Md. 2014).
Ultimately, Plaintiff has cited to no apposite authority to support her proposed hourly
rate, and has established no valid reason to deviate from the statutory fee in this case. Other than
cost of living, the only other reason mentioned in the EAJA to justify a higher fee would be a
“limited availability of qualified attorneys for the proceedings involved.” No such shortage
exists here, as this Court sees numerous attorneys who handle Social Security appeals and
request appropriate EAJA fees. Accordingly, EAJA fees will be awarded to Plaintiff’s counsel at
a rate of $190.00 per hour for 20.59 hours, for a total of $3,912.10.
Based on the foregoing, the Court GRANTS in part and DENIES in part Ms. Scotney’s
Motion for Attorneys’ Fee Under the Equal Access to Justice Act. A separate order follows.
Dated: February 3, 2015
Stephanie A. Gallagher
United States Magistrate Judge
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