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Wagner v. Saul

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

December 11, 2019

DEBORAH R. WAGNER, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

         This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b), the Rules of this Court, and the consent of the parties [Doc. 14]. Now before the Court is the Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney Fees Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412 [Doc. 22], filed on August 6, 2019. Plaintiff requests that the Court enter an Order awarding $3, 791.00 in attorney's fees, costs in the amount of $400.00, and $24.00 in expenses under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1).

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 30, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 15 & 16], and on October 15, 2018, the Commissioner filed a competing Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support [Docs. 17 & 18]. The Court entered a Memorandum Opinion [Doc. 20] on July 18, 2019, granting Plaintiff's motion and denying the Commissioner's motion. Specifically, the Court ordered that the case be remanded to the Administrative Law Judge to reconsider Plaintiff's medical improvement in accordance with the Memorandum Opinion. Plaintiff subsequently filed the instant motion on August 6, 2019, as well as an Affidavit in Support [Doc. 23] and Memorandum in Support [Doc. 24], and the Commissioner filed a response [Doc. 25] on September 13, 2019, stating that he had no opposition to the payment of attorney's fees, costs, and expenses in the amount requested.

         II. ANALYSIS

         Now before the Court is the 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;
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 address each consideration in turn.

         A. The Plaintiff is the Prevailing Party

         In this case, the Plaintiff obtained a “sentence four” remand, which, for purposes of EAJA fees, renders him a “prevailing party.” See Melkonyan v. Sullivan, 501 U.S. 89 (1991). Thus, the Court finds the first condition for granting attorney's fees under the EAJA has been met.

         B. The Commissioner's Position was without Substantial Justification

         To satisfy the “substantial justification” requirement, the Commissioner's position must be justified “both in fact and in law, to a degree that could satisfy a reasonable person.” Jankovich v. Bowen, 868 F.2d 867, 869 (6th Cir. 1989). In this case, the Commissioner has stated that he does not oppose the Plaintiff's request for attorney's fees under the EAJA [Doc. 25], thereby conceding that the Commissioner's position in this matter was not ...


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