Watson v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration
ORDER granting 19 Motion for Attorney Fees. Signed by Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks on 11/6/2017.(abuc)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
Civil Action No. 8:17-cv-79-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 $2,156.25, representing 3.5 attorney hours at the
hourly rate of $187.50 and 16 paralegal hours at the hourly rate of $93.75, plus $22.25 in
expenses and $400 in costs. On November 2, 2017, Defendant filed a response to
Plaintiff’s motion, notifying the Court that Defendant does not object to Plaintiff’s request.
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 consideration, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s motion (ECF No. 19) is granted, and Plaintiff is awarded
attorney’s fees in the amount of $2,156.25, plus $22.25 in expenses and $400 in costs,
pursuant to EAJA. 1
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Bruce H. Hendricks
The Honorable Bruce Howe Hendricks
United States District Judge
November 6, 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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