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Bordeaux v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville Division

December 10, 2014

STEVEN AUTHOR BORDEAUX, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

H. BRUCE GUYTON, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Rule 72(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, for a report and recommendation regarding disposition of Plaintiff's Application for Attorney Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"). [Doc. 31]; see 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). Plaintiff moves the Court to enter an Order awarding attorney fees in the amount of $9, 314.75 and expenses of $18.93 under the EAJA. The Commissioner filed an objection [Doc. 32] to Plaintiff's request for attorney fees.

I. BACKGROUND

On December 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Doc. 18 & 19]. On February 5, 2014, the Commissioner filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Doc. 20 & 21]. United States Chief District Judge Thomas A. Varlan entered an Order [Doc. 30] on August 28, 2014, granting Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.

II. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

Plaintiff requests a fee award in the amount of $9, 314.75 for 50.35 hours of work performed at a rate of $185.00 per hour. [Doc. 31 & 31-1]. Plaintiff acknowledges that the "hours incurred on this matter... are above the customary hours, " but explains that the "case presented difficulty and lengthy medical records which primarily focused on the Plaintiff's mental health." [Doc. 31-1 at 3].

The Commissioner objects [Doc. 32] to the number of hours and hourly rate requested. Specifically, the Commissioner argues that Plaintiff has failed to provide proof that the current market rate supports a higher hourly attorney fee. [Id. at 2]. Further, the Commissioner contends that the number of attorney hours spent reviewing the administrative record and conducting legal research and analysis is excessive. [Id. at 3]. Although the Commissioner concedes that the record was lengthier than an average Social Security disability case, the Commissioner maintains that the number of billable hours is excessive and that Plaintiff's counsel erroneously included billing for non-attorney hours. [Id.].

III. ANALYSIS

Now before the Court is Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees under the EAJA. Four conditions must be met before fees will be awarded under the EAJA:

1. Plaintiff must be a prevailing party;
2. The Commissioner's position must be without substantial justification;
3. No special circumstances warranting denial of fees may exist; and
4. The application for attorney fees must be filed within 30 days of the final judgment in the action.

See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1). The Court will first address whether all four conditions are met for an EAJA award, and then analyze whether ...


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