Littlejohn v. Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
ORDER granting 24 Motion for Attorney Fees. The Plaintiff is awarded $3,679.69 in attorney's fees and $20.01 in expenses pursuant to EAJA. Signed by Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks on 9/25/2017.(gnan )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
Civil Action No. 5:16-cv-1031-BHH
This matter is before the Court upon Plaintiff’s motion for attorney’s fees pursuant
to the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. In his motion, Plaintiff
seeks attorney’s fees in the amount of $3,679.69, representing 11 attorney hours at the
hourly rate of $187.50 and 17.25 hours of paralegal time at the hourly rate of $93.75, plus
$20.01 in expenses. On September 21, 2017, Defendant filed a response notifying the
Court that she does not oppose Plaintiff’s motion.
Attorney’s fees may be awarded pursuant to EAJA where the government’s position
is not substantially justified. The substantial justification test is one of reasonableness in
law and fact. See Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988). The district court has
broad discretion to set the attorney fee amount. “[A] district court will always retain
substantial discretion in fixing the amount of an EAJA award. Exorbitant, unfounded, or
procedurally defective fee applications . . . are matters that the district court can recognize.”
Hyatt v. North Carolina Dep’t of Human Res., 315 F.3d 239, 254 (4th Cir. 2002) (citing
Comm’r v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 163 (1990)). Moreover, the court should not only consider
the “position taken by the United States in the civil action,” but also the “action or failure to
act by the agency upon which the civil action is based.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(D), as
amended by P.L. 99-80, § 2(c)(2)(B).
After review, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion (ECF No. 24) is granted, and Plaintiff is awarded
$3,679.69 in attorney’s fees and $20.01 in expenses pursuant to EAJA.1
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/Bruce H. Hendricks
United States District Judge
September 25, 2017
Charleston, South Carolina
As the Supreme Court made clear in Astrue v. Ratliff, attorney’s fees under EAJA are made payable
to the prevailing litigant and not to the litigant’s attorney. 560 U.S. 586, 598 (2010) (holding that the plain text
of EAJA requires that attorney’s fees be awarded to the litigant, thus subjecting EAJA fees to an offset of any
pre-existing federal debts).
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