United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Anderson/Greenwood Division
Jacquelyn D. Austin United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's motion for
award of attorney fees pursuant to the Equal Access to
Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d).
[Doc. 22.] Plaintiff seeks an award for attorneys fees and
expenses in the amount of $2779.81 for the successful
representation of Plaintiff by W. Grady Jordan in the
underlying Social Security benefits action. [Id.]
The Commissioner does not oppose the motion. [Doc. 23.] The
Commissioner's decision denying benefits to Plaintiff was
reversed and remanded for further administrative proceedings
by order of this Court under sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). [Doc. 20.] The Court will review
Plaintiff's request in accordance with requirements of
Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, 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 . . . brought by or against the United
States . . ., 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); see also Crawford v.
Sullivan, 935 F.2d 655, 656 (4th Cir. 1991) (stating
that the eligibility requirements for an award of fees under
the EAJA are (1) that the claimant is a prevailing party; (2)
that the government's position was not substantially
justified; (3) that no special circumstances make an award
unjust; and (4) that the claimant timely filed his petition
supported by an itemized statement).
claimant is a prevailing party if the case is remanded
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 301-02 (1993).
Further, the government's position is
“substantially justified” if it “ha[s] a
reasonable basis both in law and in fact.”
Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 563 (1988).
Finally, a fee petition is timely if filed within thirty days
of the final judgment. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B).
Plaintiff is the prevailing party, the Commissioner does not
contend that its position was substantially justified, the
Commissioner does not contend the award amount is
unjustified, and because the Commissioner does not oppose an
award of fees, the Court analyzes only whether
Plaintiff's requested award is reasonable. See Pierce
v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 571 (1988) (noting that
appellate courts review attorney's fee awards for an
abuse of discretion); May v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d 176,
177 (4th Cir. 1991) (per curiam) (citing Pierce, 487
U.S. at 571) (stating that “district courts have
discretion to determine a reasonable fee award”). Under
the EAJA, “fees and other expenses” that may be
awarded to a prevailing party in a civil action against the
government must be “reasonable.” 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(2)(A)(ii) (internal quotation omitted). Congress
provided that the amount of fees awarded shall be based upon
prevailing market rates for the kind and quality of the
services furnished, except that attorney's fees shall not
be awarded in excess of $125 per hour unless the court
determines that “an increase in the cost of living or a
special factor, such as the limited availability of qualified
attorneys for the proceedings involved, justifies a higher
fee.” Id.; Hyatt v. Barnhart, 315
F.3d 239, 249 (4th Cir. 2002).
EAJA award, the Administration “is only charged with
those fees and expenses fairly attributable to the monitoring
and investigatory activities that led to the discovery of the
dispute and to the litigation of that dispute.”
Hyatt, 315 F.3d at 256. “Costs” are
limited to filing fees, copying, and printing charges. 28
U.S.C. § 1920; see also 28 U.S.C. §
2412(a)(1) (specifying that costs are limited to those
enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1920). Other items, such as
postage, attorney travel, and telephone charges, are
considered “expenses” under the EAJA.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A); Int'l
Woodworkers of Am. v. Donovan, 792 F.2d 762, 767 (9th
Cir. 1985) (upholding award of expenses for telephone
charges, postage, air courier charges, and attorney travel
and noting that such expenses are those normally billed to a
client and are routine under most fee statutes).
the Commissioner does not oppose payment of attorney fees and
expenses in the amount of $2, 779.81 to Plaintiff. [Doc. 23
at 1.] The parties agree that the awarded attorneys fees be
made payable to Plaintiff and delivered to Plaintiff's
counsel. [Docs. 22, 23.] The Commissioner will determine
whether Plaintiff has any outstanding federal debt to be
offset from the attorney fees and will pay the balance of
stipulated attorney fees remaining after subtracting the
amount of Plaintiff's outstanding federal debt. [Doc. 23.
at 2.] Upon review and consideration of the motion, in light
of the EAJA, the Court finds the requested attorney's
fees are reasonable and approves Plaintiff's motion.
based upon the foregoing, it is ORDERED that Plaintiff's
motion for attorney's fees [Doc. 22] is approved and
Plaintiff is awarded attorney's fees and expenses in the
amount of $2, 779.81 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)
payable to Plaintiff. Pursuant to Astrue v. Ratliff,
560 U.S. 586 (2010), EAJA fees awarded by this court belong
to the litigant, thus subjecting EAJA fees to any debt that
the Plaintiff may owe to the United States. Therefore, the
Court directs the Commissioner to make the check, after