Taggart v. Saul

Filing 25

ORDER granting 23 motion for attorney fees. Signed January 17, 2023 by District Judge M. Douglas Harpool. (Clark, Christopher)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI CENTRAL DIVISION DONNA D. TAGGART, Plaintiff, v. KILOLO KIJAKAZI, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No. 21-04109-CV-C-MDH ORDER Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Application for Attorney’s Fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. (Doc. 23). Plaintiff’s Motion seeks $4,957.00 (Doc. 231), and Defendant agrees this amount is reasonable. (Doc. 24). The EAJA creates a right to attorney’s fees in civil actions against the government. The EAJA statute provides legal fees may be allowed only for an adversary action, such as a social security claim in district court. 42 U.S.C. § 406(b)(1); Clifton v. Heckler, 755 F.2d 1138 (5th Cir. 1985). In determining whether the attorney’s fees requested by a qualified Plaintiff are “reasonable,” Section 2412(d)(2)(A) of EAJA specifies a statutory cap of $125.00 per hour, which should be adjusted for increases in the cost of living. The Eighth Circuit has held that the Consumer Price Index constitutes appropriate proof of the cost-of-living increase since the original enactment of the EAJA, and justifies an award higher than the statutory rate of $75. Stanfield v. Apfel, 985 F. Supp. 927, 930-931 (E.D. Mo. 1997) (decision approving as “reasonable” in 1997 an hourly rate of $128.36 per hour) citing Johnson v. Sullivan, 919 F.2d 503, 504 (8th Cir. 1990). The statutory hourly rate under the EAJA was increased from $75 to $125 per hour for cases commenced on or after March 26, 1996. 1 Case 2:21-cv-04109-MDH Document 25 Filed 01/17/23 Page 1 of 2 Further, in determining the reasonableness of the hours claimed in Plaintiff’s request, the Court must rely upon its own knowledge, experience, and expertise of the time required completing similar activities by lawyers of reasonably comparable skill, experience, and reputation. Shepherd v. Apfel, 981 F. Supp. 1188, 1192 (S.D. Iowa 1997) citing Gilbert v. City of Little Rock, Arkansas, 867 F.2d 1063, 1066 (8th Cir. 1989). Defendant has no objection to Plaintiff’s requests for attorney’s fees in the amount of $4,957.00, representing 22.50 total hours of attorney work. (Doc. 24). Therefore, Plaintiff’s Motion is GRANTED, and it is ORDERED that Plaintiff is awarded $4,957.00 to be paid by the Social Security Administration. Plaintiff has signed an Assignment of EAJA Fees in this case. (Doc. 23-3). The award is to be made payable to Parmele Law Firm. The Court acknowledges that, in accordance with Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586 (2010), the EAJA fee is payable to Plaintiff as the litigant and may be offset to satisfy a pre-existing debt that the litigant owes to the United States. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: January 17, 2023 /s/ Douglas Harpool______ DOUGLAS HARPOOL United States District Judge 2 Case 2:21-cv-04109-MDH Document 25 Filed 01/17/23 Page 2 of 2

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