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Sturgill v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

August 27, 2013

KATHY STURGILL, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [1]

MICHAEL J. NEWMAN, Magistrate Judge.

This case is before the Court pursuant to Plaintiff's motion for an award of her attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA"), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). Doc. 16. Plaintiff originally requested attorney's fees in the amount of $3, 711.33. Id. at PageID 1119. Thereafter, Plaintiff and Defendant jointly filed a stipulation whereby Plaintiff would receive a lesser amount of attorney's fees - i.e., $3, 366.09. Doc. 18 at PageID 1128.

I.

EAJA provides for an award of attorney's fees to a party who prevails in a civil action against the United States "when the position taken by the Government is not substantially justified and no special circumstances exist warranting a denial of fees." Bryant v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 578 F.3d 443, 445 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A)). A party who wins a Sentence Four remand is a prevailing party for EAJA purposes. See Shalala v. Schaefer, 509 U.S. 292, 301-02 (1993). EAJA fees are payable to the litigant. Astrue v. Ratliff, ___ U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 2521, 2524 (2010).

II.

On January 29, 2013, District Judge Thomas M. Rose issued an Entry and Order in which he reversed the ALJ's non-disability finding, and remanded this matter under Sentence Four for additional administrative proceedings. Doc. 14. Accordingly, Plaintiff is the prevailing party in this case for EAJA purposes, and is therefore entitled to an award of attorney's fees under EAJA. See Shalala, 509 U.S. at 301-02.

Plaintiff's counsel advises the Court that he worked 21.5 hours on this matter. Doc. 16 at PageID 1126. Under the stipulated amount of $3, 366.09, counsel's hourly rate is $156.56. ($3, 366.09 divided by 21.5 equals $156.56). Having reviewed the time sheet entries and exhibits submitted by Plaintiff's counsel, and considering the nature of the work counsel performed in this matter, the Court finds the requested fee reasonable. Compare Kash v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 3:11-cv-44, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106215, at *3-9, 2012 WL 3112373, at *2-3 (S.D. Ohio July 31, 2012) (Newman, M.J.), adopted by 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118971, at *1, 2012 WL 3636936, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Aug. 21, 2012) (Rice, J.) (finding an hourly rate of $176.36 reasonable in an EAJA fee application). Accordingly, Plaintiff is entitled to an EAJA fees award in the amount of $3, 366.09.

III.

Based upon the foregoing, IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT:

1. Plaintiff's motion for EAJA fees (doc. 16) be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, and Plaintiff be AWARDED the sum ...

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