United States District Court, D. South Carolina
RICHARD MARK GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs motion for an
award of attorney's fees and expenses pursuant to the
Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412. (Dkt. No. 31). Defendant has filed a memorandum
in opposition, arguing that the time sought to be reimbursed
by Plaintiffs counsel was not reasonable and that certain
tasks sought to be reimbursed were clerical in nature and not
reimbursable as attorney's fees. (Dkt. No. 32). Plaintiff
has filed a brief in reply. (Dkt. No. 33).
case arose out of Plaintiff s appeal of the
Commissioner's denial of Social Security disability
benefits. The matter was referred to a Magistrate Judge for
pretrial handling. The Magistrate Judge, after receiving full
briefing from the parties, issued a 29-page Report and
Recommendation ("R & R"), which recommended
that the decision of the Commissioner be reversed because of
the failure of the agency to properly consider the opinions
of Plaintiff s treating physician. (Dkt. No. 23). The
Commissioner filed no objection to the R & R. (Dkt. No.
25). The Court adopted the R & R as the order of the
Court and remanded the matter to the agency for further
processing consistent with the order. (Dkt. No. 29).
prevailing party in a Social Security Administration action
is entitled to an award under EAJA "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). In determining
whether a fee is reasonable, the court considers the hours
expended, the reasonable hourly rate, and the results
obtained. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 434
(1983). The court should treat the case "as an inclusive
whole, rather than as atomized line-items." Comm
'r, Immigration & Naturalization Serv. v. Jean,
496 U.S. 154, 161-62 (1990). An award should include only
hours "reasonably expended" and not include hours
that are "excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary
. . . ." Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. at 434.
Purely clerical tasks are not reimbursable as attorney's
fees, but tasks that require some legal skill must be
reviewed by the court to determine under the circumstances
whether they are reasonable. Quade v. Barnhart, 570
F.Supp.2d 1164, 1167 (D. Ariz. 2008).
Commissioner does not challenge Plaintiffs entitlement to an
EAJA award or the hourly rate requested. The Commissioner
does not challenge Plaintiffs request for $400.00 in costs.
Most of the Plaintiffs requested time is also not challenged
by the Commissioner. The Commissioner challenges certain time
Plaintiff has requested for reimbursement as
"unreasonable and excessive" and/or "purely
clerical." (Dkt. No. 32). The Court addresses each of these
Time expended preparing the initial and reply
The Commissioner challenges the request for 8.9 hours
expended in preparing the initial brief and 8.0 hours for the
reply brief. The Commissioner further argues that Plaintiff
prevailed on only one of her four issues and the time
expended should somehow be apportioned. (Dkt. No. 32 at 3).
The Court has reviewed the Plaintiffs briefs in question and
find the time expended reasonable and proper. Moreover, the
Court looks to results obtained, and here Plaintiff
successfully obtained a reversal of the Commissioner's
denial of disability benefits and a remand to the agency.
Under these circumstances, the Court finds the
Commissioner's objection wholly without merit.
Preparation of a revised summons:
Plaintiff billed 0.2 hours for preparation of the summons and
an additional 0.6 hours for reviewing and addressing a
request from the court staff to revise the summons. (Dkt. No.
31-1 at 3). The Court finds the time expended revising the
summons to be redundant and denies reimbursement for the
additional 0.6 hours (total amount $118.08).
Time expended filing briefs, preparing of certificates of
service, and addressing a request for extension of time:
The Commissioner described these tasks as "purely
clerical." (Dkt. No. 32 at 3-4). Plaintiff responded
that each of these tasks required an element of skill and
judgment and are properly reimbursable under EAJA as part of
a fee award. (Dkt. No. 33 at 2-3). After reviewing the record
in this matter, the Court finds these tasks are properly
reimbursable as reasonable time expended for attorney time
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