Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Brusch v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

April 6, 2017

IVA BRUSCH, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendant.

          ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S APPLICATION FOR ATTORNEY FEES UNDER THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT

          Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Application for Attorney Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act [Doc 23]. The application is fully briefed.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 4, 2012, Plaintiff Iva T. Brusch (“Brusch”) filed applications for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits under sections 216(I) and 223, and sections 1611 and 1614 of the Social Security Act respectively, 42 U.S.C. Sections 416(I), 423, 1381(a) and 1382(a). Her applications were denied. Brusch then filed a request for a hearing and testified before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ denied her claims for disability benefits. The Appeals Council denied review and a final administrative decision by the Commissioner was rendered.

         Brusch then filed a Complaint for Judicial Review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) filed a Stipulated Motion for Remand. This court remanded the case to the Social Security Agency.

         Brusch filed an application for $9, 799.40 in attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412, for work performed in 2015 and 2016: 51.2 attorney hours at a rate of $184.50 per hour and 3.53 paralegal hours at $100 per hour.

         The Commissioner responded and agreed that Brusch is entitled to attorney's fees under EAJA, but objects to the requested amount for the following reasons: (1) fees cannot be awarded for the clerical work of paralegals, and 2) the attorney's reported hours are unreasonably excessive because (a) the Sixth Circuit has found 20-40 hours to be the norm for Social Security disability cases; (b) and neither the length of the administrative transcript nor the arguments contained in Brusch's motion for summary judgment justifies a request for more.

         In her Reply, Brusch agreed to eliminate the clerical work and reduce the paralegal hours to 2.52. However, she asserts that the attorney hours are not unreasonably excessive because of the length of the transcript and the attorneys' newness to the case. Brusch now requests 52.7 attorney hours, to account for time spent on the reply, and 2.52 paralegal hours.

         II. DISCUSSION

         Unless otherwise prohibited by statute, the EAJA allows a court to award reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses in civil cases brought against the United States, its agencies, or its officials acting in their official capacity. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b). An applicant can recover under EAJA if (1) the applicant is the prevailing party, (2) the government's position is without substantial justification, and (3) no special circumstances warrant denying relief. DeLong v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 748 F.3d 723, 725 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Marshall v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 444 F.3d 837, 840 (6th Cir. 2006)). The attorney fee awarded cannot exceed $125 per hour, except when the Court determines that a higher fee is justified by a special factor like an increase in the cost of living. Id. § 2412(1)(D)(2)(A).

         Brusch contends that due to cost of living increases, the court should set the hourly rate at $184.50. The Commissioner does not disagree with the rate, only the total attorney hours claimed.

         When a court finds that a party is eligible for fees and expenses under EAJA, it uses the lodestar amount to calculate a reasonable attorney fees award. Minor v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 826 F.3d 878, 881 (6th Cir. 2016) (citing Comm'r, I.N.S. v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 160 (1990)).) The lodestar amount is the number of hours billed multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. Minor, 826 F.3d at 881 (6th Cir. 2016)(citing Gonter v. Hunt Valve Co., 510 F.3d 610, 616 (6th Cir. 2007)).

         The EAJA does not limit the amount of attorney's hours and only requires the attorney to submit all hours in an itemized statement. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B). However, the court need not accept the hours asserted by the attorney; it can reduce the amount for “duplication, padding or frivolous claims.” Glass v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 822 F.2d 19, 21 (6th Cir. 1987)(citing Northcross v. Board of Education of Memphis City Schools, 611 F.2d 624, 636 (6th Cir. 1980)); See also Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (fees should exclude excessive, redundant, or inadequately documented time). If the court does reject the attorney's submitted hours, it must specify why. Glass, 822 F.2d at 21.

         The Commissioner asserts that the Sixth Circuit, in Glass, found a range of 20-40[1]attorney hours to be a reasonable amount for Social Security disability cases. The Commissioner argues ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.