Coombs v. Colvin
ORDER GRANTING 19 EAJA FEES AND COSTS signed by Hon. Brian A Tsuchida.(AE)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON
MARY A. COOMBS,
CASE NO. C16-5878-BAT
ORDER GRANTING EAJA
FEES AND COSTS
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
Mary A. Coombs, moves for EAJA fees and expenses of $8,239.33. Dkt. 19. The
Commissioner argues her position is substantially justified and no fees should be awarded. Dkt.
20. The Court rejects this arguments and GRANTS plaintiff’s motion.
Substantial justification requires the government to demonstrate its position had a
reasonable basis in both law and fact at each stage of the proceedings, including both the
government’s litigation position, and the underlying agency action giving rise to the civil action.
Tobeler v. Colvin, 749 F.3d 830, 832–34 (9th Cir. 2014). Deviating from this standard, the
Commissioner argues the issue is “whether the Commissioner was substantially justified in
defending the errors identified by the Court.” Dkt. 20 at 2. But the “position of the United States”
includes both the government’s litigation position and the underlying agency action giving rise to
the civil action. Meier v. Colvin, 727 F.3d 867, 870 (9th Cir. 2014). Thus the Court first
ORDER GRANTING EAJA FEES 3
considers the underlying agency action to determine whether the government’s position is
substantially justified. Id. at 872. A court need not address whether the government’s subsequent
litigation position is justified when the underlying agency position was not substantially justified.
Id. at 872–73. Here the Commissioner reargues her position, a position the Court already rejected
in reversing the ALJ’s decision, and which the Court rejects as establishing substantial
justification. To the extent the Commissioner raises new arguments, they cannot be relied upon
to substantially justify a prior position.
Accordingly the Court GRANTS Ms. Coombs’ motion, Dkt. 19, and ORDERS
Plaintiff is awarded EAJA fees and expenses in the sum of $8,329.33. The Court
has reviewed the pleadings and finds the fee requested is reasonable. Subject to offsets allowed
under the Treasury Offset Program, under Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S. Ct. 2521 (2010), payment of
the award shall be sent to Plaintiff’s attorney Eitan Kassel Yanich at his address: Eitan Kassel
Yanich, PLLC, 203 Fourth Avenue E., Suite 321, Olympia, WA. 98501.
The Commissioner shall consider Plaintiff’s assignment of EAJA fees and
expenses to her attorney. Under Ratliff, the assignment depends on whether the EAJA award is
subject to offsets allowed under the Treasury Offset Program. The Commissioner will contact the
Department of Treasury to determine whether the EAJA award is subject to any offset. If not, the
EAJA award shall paid directly to plaintiff’s attorney Eitan Kassel Yanich, either by direct
deposit or by check payable to him and mailed to his address.
DATED this 30th of October, 2017.
BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA
United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER GRANTING EAJA FEES 3
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