Bobby J. Coursey, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Kentucky at Bowling Green. No. 1:15-cv-00005-H.
Brent Brennenstuhl, Magistrate Judge.
B. Eaglin, OLINSKY LAW GROUP, Syracuse, New York, for
J. Alesia, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Chicago, Illinois,
Before: BOGGS, GILMAN, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.
LEE GILMAN, Circuit Judge.
the successful reversal of the Social Security
Administration's denial of his Social Security benefits,
Bobby J. Coursey sought attorney fees under the Equal Access
to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. Coursey
requested an hourly rate of $185.18, which exceeds the
EAJA's presumptive statutory cap of $125 per hour. The
district court granted Coursey's request in part by
allowing the rate of $140 per hour. Coursey appeals, seeking
the full requested rate. For the reasons set forth below, we
AFFIRM the judgment of the district court.
Coursey's application for Social Security benefits was
denied by the Social Security Administration, he sought
judicial review of the Administration's decision in the
district court. The case was resolved when the court granted
a joint motion to reverse the Administration's decision.
Judgment in favor of Coursey was entered in September 2015.
then filed a motion for attorney fees. Although the EAJA sets
the presumptive maximum hourly rate an attorney may recover
at $125, see 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A), Coursey
sought $185.18 per hour. Coursey submitted the Bureau of
Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the
Midwest, which documents that the EAJA's statutory cap
amount would, when adjusted for the cost of living in the
Midwest in 2015, be the equivalent of $185.18.
Commissioner opposed the motion on the ground that the
evidence Coursey produced in support of his motion was
insufficient to justify an increased hourly rate. Citing this
court's decision in Bryant v. Commissioner of Social
Security, 578 F.3d 443 (6th Cir. 2009), the Commissioner
argued that a party must put forward evidence that the
requested rate is "in line with those prevailing in the
community for similar services by lawyers of reasonably
comparable skill, experience, and reputation" in order
to obtain attorney fees in excess of the EAJA cap.
Id. at 450 (quoting Blum v. Stetson, 465
U.S. 886, 895 n.11 (1984)). Coursey responded by citing to
cases outside this circuit and referring to Glenn v.
Commissioner of Social Security, 763 F.3d 494, 497 n.3
(6th Cir. 2014), in which this court commented that fees of
$171.06 and $173.01 per hour requested by Coursey's
counsel, Howard Olinsky, for work in 2012 and 2013,
respectively, were "modest" and
"reasonable." Id. The response included an
affidavit by Olinsky that described his qualifications and
stated his normal contingent hourly rate in Syracuse, New
March 2016, the district court granted in part Coursey's
motion for attorney fees. The court concluded that the CPI
and Olinsky's affidavit were insufficient to justify the
requested hourly rate. Ultimately, however, the court
approved an award of $140 per hour, consistent with other
recent cases in that district awarding that amount for EAJA
attorney-fee requests in Social Security cases. This timely