United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION
CARRILLO RAMIREZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court for recommendation is Plaintiff's EAJA Fee
Application, filed July 7, 2019. (doc. 28). Based on the
relevant findings, evidence, and applicable law, the
application should be GRANTED.
December 17, 2017, Erica W. (Plaintiff) filed a complaint
seeking judicial review of a final decision by the
Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) that denied her
claims for disability insurance benefits (DIB) and
supplemental security income (SSI) under Titles II and XVI of
the Social Security Act. (doc. 1.) On March 21, 2019, the
Commissioner's decision was reversed, and the case was
remanded for further proceedings. (docs. 23, 24, 25.)
Plaintiff subsequently moved for an award of attorney's
fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d) (EAJA). (doc. 28.) The Commissioner did not respond
to the application and it is now ripe for determination.
the EAJA, a court must award attorney's fees and expenses
if (1) the claimant is the “prevailing
party”; (2) the Government's position was not
“substantially justified”; and (3) there are no
special circumstances that make an award unjust.
Murkeldove v. Astrue, 635 F.3d 784, 790 (5th Cir.
2011) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A)). The
attorney's fees awarded under the EAJA must be
reasonable, however. See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b).
“Because EAJA is a partial waiver of sovereign
immunity, it must be strictly construed in the
government's favor.” Tex. Food Indus. Ass'n
v. USDA, 81 F.3d 578, 580 (5th Cir. 1996) (citation
omitted). “In determining the reasonableness of such
fees, [the Fifth Circuit] has adopted the 12-factor
‘lodestar' test enunciated in Johnson v.
Georgia Highway Exp., Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717 (5th Cir.
1974).” Sanders v. Barnhart, No.
04-10600, 2005 WL 2285403, at *2 (5th Cir. Sept. 19, 2005)
(per curiam). It is, however, “not necessary for a
district court to examine each of the factors independently
if it is apparent that the court has arrived at a just
compensation based upon appropriate standards.”
Id. (citing Cobb v. Miller, 818 F.2d 1227,
1232 (5th Cir. 1987). The claimant has the burden of
demonstrating that the hours claimed were reasonably expended
on the prevailing claim. Von Clark v. Butler, 916
F.2d 255, 259 (5th Cir. 1990) (noting that the burden
“does not shift to the opposing party merely because
that party does not show that the hours are unreasonable or
that it did not make specific objections to the hours
as the prevailing party, Plaintiff has requested a total of
$12, 298.40 in attorney's fees based on 59.4 hours of
attorney work for litigating this appeal in federal court and
3 hours of attorney work for defending the EAJA
application. (doc. 28 at 7.) She has submitted a
billing summary, which consists of detailed time entries for
legal services rendered by counsel. (doc. 28-2.) The entries
show the amount of time expended for each activity and are
organized by the date the legal services were rendered in
this case between October 25, 2017 and June 23, 2019.
(Id.) The billing summary reflects, after a
voluntary reduction of more than 20% “per counsel's
billing judgment, ” 2.7 hours at a rate of $193.00,
55.6 hours at a rate of $197.00, and 4.1 hours at a rate of
$201.00. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff has also
requested a total of $250.00 in expenses for the expert fee
paid on this appeal and has submitted a copy of the
expert's billing invoice. (doc. 28 at 5; doc. 28-3.)
is well established that the most critical factor in
determining an award of attorney's fees is the degree of
success obtained by the victorious plaintiff [ ].”
Northwinds Abatement, Inc. v. Empl'rs. Ins. of
Wausau, 258 F.3d 345, 354 (5th Cir. 2001) (internal
quotations omitted); see also Hensley, 461 U.S. at
440 (“[T]he extent of a plaintiff's success is a
crucial factor in determining the proper amount of an award
of attorney's fees under” the EAJA.). In view of
Plaintiff's success and considering all of the work
performed, the hours requested are reasonable and should not
be reduced. See, e.g., Goin v. Colvin, No.
3:12-CV-2471-B, 2013 WL 1797862, at *6 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 28,
2013) (approving 79.2 hours of attorney work on a social
security appeal); Bentley v. Astrue, No.
3:10-CV-00032-L BF, 2011 WL 2923970, at *2 (N.D. Tex. June
15, 2011) (awarding 57.5 hours “that counsel reasonably
and necessarily expended in th[e] case”),
recommendation adopted as modified on other grounds,
2011 WL 2938223 (N.D. Tex. July 20, 2011); Sweat v.
Barnhart, No. 3:05-CV-0329-M, slip op. at 4 (N.D. Tex.
Aug. 27, 2007) (approving of 66.1 hours that counsel
“reasonably and necessarily expended . . . on the
[claimant's] successful appeal”). Accordingly,
Plaintiff's request for a total of $12, 548.40 in
attorney's fees and expenses should be granted, and the
award should be made payable directly to Plaintiff and mailed
to Plaintiff's counsel.
motion should be GRANTED, and she should be
awarded $12, 548.40 in attorney's fees and expenses as
(1) 2.7 hours of attorney work for litigating Plaintiff's
appeal in 2017 at an hourly rate of $193.00 ($521.10);
(2) 55.6 hours of attorney work for litigating
Plaintiff's appeal in 2018 at an hourly rate of $197.00
(3) 1.1 hours of attorney work for litigating Plaintiffs
appeal in 2019 at an hour rate of $201.00 ($221.10);
(4) 3 hours of attorney work for defending Plaintiffs EAJA
attorney's fees application in 2019 at an hourly rate ...