Miles v. Astrue
ORDER GRANTING 28 Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees under EAJA. Plaintiff's counsel is awarded fees in the amount of $9,034.19 and expenses in the amount of $802.99. Signed by US District Judge Terrence W. Boyle on 3/27/2014. (Fisher, M.)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
DURAND EDWARD MILES,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
Plaintiffs counsel has moved for attorney's fees and costs pursuant to the Equal Access
to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. [DE 28]. For the reasons stated herein, counsel's
motion is GRANTED.
The Equal Access to Justice Act provides that parties who prevail in litigation
against the United States are entitled to payment for reasonable attorney's fees unless the
United States was "substantially justified" in its litigatory position. 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(1)(A). In order to establish eligibility for an award under the act, the claimant
must show that he is (i) the prevailing party; (ii) that the government's position was not
substantially justified; (iii) that no special circumstances make an award unjust; and (iv)
that the fee application was submitted to the court within thirty days of final judgment
and was supported by an itemized statement. See Crawford v. Sullivan, 935 F.2d 655,
656 (4th Cir. 1991).
Here, the Acting Commissioner does not dispute that plaintiff was the prevailing
party, that the Commissioner's position in the underlying litigation was unjustified, or
that plaintiff is procedurally eligible for EAJA fees, but rather focuses her objections to
plaintiffs request solely on the amount of fees.
As the Court finds no special
circumstances or equitable issues that would preclude an award of EAJA fees, it cabins
its consideration of plaintiffs motion to the amount of fees requested.
Plaintiff has requested EAJA fees and costs in the amount of $9,837.18 for 50.5
hours of work, which the Acting Commissioner contends is unreasonable and excessive.
"Once the district court determines that plaintiffs have met the threshold conditions for an
award of fees and costs under the EAJA, the district court must undertake the 'task of
determining what fee is reasonable."' Hyatt v. Barnhart, 315 F.3d 239, 253 (4th Cir.
2002) (citation omitted).
"Ideally, the litigants will settle the amount of a fee," but
"[w]here settlement is not possible, the fee applicant bears the burden of establishing
entitlement to an award and documenting the appropriate hours expended." !d. (internal
quotation omitted). A court has great discretion to determine the fee award so long as the
fee is reasonable. /d. at 254. In determining the amount of the fee, a court may consider:
(1) "[t]he extent of a plaintiffs success," /d.; (2) the novelty and complexity of the issues
presented, Bunn v. Bowen, 637 F.Supp. 464, 469 (E.D.N.C. 1986); (3) the experience and
skill of the attorney, !d.; and (4) the typical range of compensated hours in a particular
Dixon v. Astrue, No. 5:06-CV-77-JG, 2008 WL 360989 *4 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 8,
Here, plaintiff was quite successful as the Acting Commissioner recognized by
agreeing to a remand of this action prior to filing of her own motion for judgment on the
pleadings, and plaintiffs counsel has demonstrated that she is an experienced attorney in
the social security field. The Court has further reviewed the amount of time expended
and the rates at which counsel has billed and finds them to be at bottom reasonable and
not to result in a windfall to counsel. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 430 n.4
(1983); see also Quade ex rel. Quade v. Barnhart, 570 F. Supp.2d 1164, 1167-1168 (D.
Ariz. 2008) (noting that the "Court will not micromanage an attorney's approach to a
case" and finding appropriate for compensation time for telephone calls to the claimant
and the clerk's office, reviewing court orders, reviewing summons, and duplicative
research); Attia v. Astrue, No. 1:06-cv-00778-SMS, 2008 WL 2620376 *3 (E.D.Ca. July
3, 2008) (fifty-one hours reasonable where brief was lengthy, administrative record was
lengthy, and counsel was experienced; time spent reviewing documents from
administrative level pertaining to case also compensable under EAJA).
For these reasons, plaintiffs motion for attorney's fees under EAJA is
GRANTED and plaintiffs counsel is awarded fees in the amount of$9,034.19 and
expenses in the amount of$802.99.
day of March, 2014.
RllliNCE W. BOYLE
UNITED STATES DISTRIC JUDGE
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