United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division
RUBY L. MATTHEWS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
HANOVICE PALERMO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff Ruby L. Matthews's
(“Plaintiff”) motion for attorney's fees. ECF
No. 15. The Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) did not file a
response and Plaintiff represents that her motion is
unopposed. ECF No. 16, Ex. 7. Based on the briefing, the
evidence, and the applicable law, the Court determines that
Plaintiff's motion should be granted as modified below.
12, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment,
requesting judicial review of Commissioner's decision
denying her application for disability insurance benefits.
ECF No. 12. On July 1, 2019, Commissioner filed an unopposed
motion to reverse the decision by the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) and remand the case for further
administrative proceedings. ECF No. 13. The Court granted
Commissioner's motion to remand on July 11, 2019 pursuant
to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). ECF No. 14.
filed the current motion under the Equal Access to Justice
Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C § 2412, seeking an
award of $6, 732.71 in attorney's and paralegal fees. ECF
No. 15 at 1. Plaintiff, in support of her motion, submitted
contemporaneous time records for all attorneys and paralegals
who worked on the appeal. See ECF No. 16, Exs. B-D.
ATTORNEY'S FEES UNDER THE EAJA
EAJA permits the recovery of attorney's fees in
proceedings for judicial review of an agency's action. 28
U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). The purpose is to “ensure
adequate representation of those who need it and to minimize
the cost of this representation to taxpayers.” Day
v. Comm'r, No. 16-CV-210, 2017 WL 4922048, at *1
(E.D. Tex. Oct. 31, 2017); see Murkeldove v. Astrue,
635 F.3d 784, 793 (5th Cir. 2011) (purpose is to eliminate
the financial disincentive for an average person to challenge
unreasonable government actions). Under the EAJA, a party is
entitled to recover attorney's fees from the United
States when, at a minimum, the following four elements are
met: (1) he is a prevailing party; (2) he timely files a fee
application supported by an itemized statement; (3) the court
finds the position of the government, in the administrative
proceedings as well as before the Court, was not
substantially justified; and (4) no special circumstances
make an award unjust. Perales v. Casillas, 950 F.2d
1066, 1072 (5th Cir. 1992); Mesecher v. Berryhill,
No. 15-CV-859, 2017 WL 4417682, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Oct. 3,
2017); Benoit v. Astrue, No. H-07-2939, 2008 WL
3928026, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 27, 2008).
PLAINTIFF SATISFIES THE EAJA REQUIREMENTS
careful review of the evidence and law, the Court finds that
the Plaintiff has met the four requirements for an award of
attorney's fees under the EAJA.
secured a remand under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). When the district court remands a social
security action under sentence four of § 405(g), the
claimant is a prevailing party. Shalala v. Schaefer,
509 U.S. 292, 299-301 (1993); Day, 2017 WL 4922048,
at *1. Thus, Plaintiff satisfied the first element.
timely filed her motion for attorney's fees. The party
seeking fees is required to submit an application to the
court “within thirty days of final judgment in the
action.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B). “The
district court's judgment becomes final when it can no
longer be appealed.” Murkeldove, 635 F.3d at
Rule 4(a) of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
establishes that, in a civil case to which a federal officer
is a party, the time for appeal does not end until 60 days
after entry of judgment, and that a judgment is considered
entered for purposes of the rule only if it has been entered
in compliance with Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Shalala, 509 U.S. at 302 (quotations and alterations
omitted). Rule 58 requires the district court to issue its
judgment in a separate document. Id. at 302-03.
case, the Court issued a judgment on July 11, 2019, ECF No.
14, which became final sixty days later, on September 9,
2019. Plaintiff had thirty days from September 9, 2019 to
file her motion for attorney's fees. ...