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
Application for Attorney Fees Under the Equal Access to
Justice Act, filed August 12, 2019. (doc. 32). Based on
the relevant findings, evidence, and applicable law, the
application should be GRANTED.
25, 2018, Tammy M. (Plaintiff) filed a complaint seeking
judicial review of a final decision by the Commissioner of
Social Security (Commissioner) that denied her claim for
supplemental security income under Title XVI of the Social
Security Act. (doc. 1.) On May 14, 2019, the Commissioner's
decision was reversed, and the case was remanded for further
proceedings. (docs. 27, 28, 29.) 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. 32.) 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
$9, 308.18 in attorney's fees based on 46.6 hours of
attorney work for litigating this appeal in federal court and
1 hour of attorney work for defending the EAJA
application at an hourly rate of
$195.55. (docs. 32 at 7; 32-6 at 4.) She has
submitted a billing summary, which consists of detailed time
entries for legal services rendered by counsel. (doc. 32-6.) 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 May 15, 2018, and August 7,
2019. (Id.) The billing summary reflects 3.65
attorney hours in 2018 and 43.95 attorney hours in 2019.
(Id. at 4.)
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,
Plaintiffs request for a total of $9, 308.18 in
attorney's fees should be granted, and the award should
be made payable directly to Plaintiff and mailed to
motion should be GRANTED, and she should be
awarded $9, 308.18, which represents 47.6 attorney hours for
legal services at the rate of $195.55 per hour. The award of
attorney's fees in this case should be made payable
directly to Plaintiff and mailed to her counsel.
By Special Order No. 3-251,
this social security appeal was automatically referred for