United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
ALICIA M. C., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER RE: PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR
FEES UNDER THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT, 28 U.S.C. §
MUSTAFA T. KASUBHAI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Plaintiff's Application for Fees Under the
Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412(d). ECF No. 24. Both parties consent to
jurisdiction by a U.S. Magistrate Judge. For the reasons
discussed below, the Court grants Plaintiff's application
for fees and orders the award of attorney fees under the EAJA
in the amount of $11, 294.10.
August 8, 2019, the Court issued an Opinion and Order
granting the Commissioner of Social Security's
(“Commissioner's”) Motion for Remand for
further administrative proceedings. ECF No. 22. Plaintiff
timely filed an EAJA application requesting attorney fees.
Pl.'s EAJA Appl. 1, ECF No. 24. Plaintiff requested $7,
127.07 in attorney fees. Id. Upon the
Commissioner's filing of an objection, Plaintiff filed a
reply and requested an additional $1, 429.75 in attorney
fees. Pl.'s Reply, ECF No. 27. The Commissioner objects
certain portions of Plaintiff's attorney fees on two
grounds. First, the $2, 226.33 in attorney fees for the 10.9
hours Plaintiff's attorney spent in preparing the
response to the Commissioner's Motion for Remand.
Def.'s Resp. 2, ECF No. 26. Second, the $510.95 in
attorney fees for the 2.9 hours that Plaintiff's attorney
and the paralegal spent in preparing the EAJA application.
[A] court shall award to a prevailing party other than the
United States fees and other expenses . . . incurred by that
party in any civil action (other than cases sounding in
tort), including proceedings for judicial review of agency
action, brought by or against the United States in any court
having jurisdiction of that action, unless the court finds
that the position of the United States was substantially
justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust.
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). “Fees and other
expenses” include “reasonable attorney
fees”. 28 U.S.C § 2412(d)(2)(A). While the EAJA
contains a presumptive rate cap of $125 an hour in attorney
fees, courts may award a higher fee for cost of living
increases. Id. The statute explicitly
permits the court, in its discretion, to reduce the amount
awarded to the prevailing party to the extent that the party
“unduly and unreasonably” protracted the final
resolution of the case. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2412(d)(1)(C),
2412(d)(2)(D). When determining whether attorney fees are
reasonable under the EAJA, federal courts use the
“lodestar” method. Costa v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 690 F.3d 1132, 1135 (9th Cir. 2012).
The lodestar amount is calculated by multiplying the number
of hours reasonably expended on the litigation by the
reasonable hourly rate. Id. The prevailing party
should exclude from their fee request hours that are
excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary. Id.
The court can adjust the lodestar amount by considering
reasonableness factors. Stetson v. Grissom, 821 F.3d
1157, 1166 (9th Cir. 2016). These factors, known as the
“Kerr factors”, include “the quality of
representation, the benefit obtained . . ., the complexity
and novelty of the issues presented, and the risk of
nonpayment.” Id. at 66-67.
Commissioner does not dispute that Plaintiff is the
“prevailing party.” Def.'s Resp., ECF No. 26.
The Commissioner challenges Plaintiff's application for
fees incurred in opposing the Commissioner's Motion for
Remand and in preparing the EAJA application. Id. at
Fees for Opposing the Commissioner's Motion for
Advancement of Plaintiff's Position
Commissioner first contends that Plaintiff's attorney did
not advance Plaintiff's position in opposing the
Commissioner's Motion for Remand. Id. at 6-7.
Plaintiff disagrees. The Court therefore evaluates whether
Plaintiff advanced her position beyond the remand terms
requested by the Commissioner. If a court identifies
additional error, not conceded by the Commissioner in its
proposed remand, then a plaintiff may recover compensation
for time ...