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Tarr v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, Sixth Circuit

September 4, 2013

John Tarr, Plaintiff
v.
Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VERNELIS K. ARMSTRONG, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 26, 2012, the parties consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned Magistrate Judge for any and all further proceedings in this case, including trial and the entry of a final judgment, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)(1) (Docket No. 14). Pending are Plaintiff John Tarr's ("Plaintiff") Motion for Attorneys' Fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(a) (Docket No. 23) and Defendant Commissioner's ("Defendant" or "Commissioner") Response (Docket No. 24). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion for Attorneys' Fees is granted.

II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On March 15, 2005, Plaintiff filed an application for a period of Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i) and 423 (Docket No. 12, pp. 72-74 of 530). In his application, Plaintiff alleged a period of disability beginning June 1, 2003 (Docket No. 12, p. 72 of 530). Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on May 23, 2005 (Docket No. 12, pp. 62-64 of 530), and upon reconsideration on September 22, 2005 (Docket No. 12, pp. 40-42 of 530). Plaintiff thereafter filed a timely written request for a hearing on September 30, 2005 (Docket No. 12, p. 38 of 530).

On December 17, 2007, Plaintiff appeared with counsel for a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Dennis R. Greene ("ALJ Greene") (Docket No. 12, pp. 367-416 of 530). Also appearing at the hearing were medical experts Dr. Walter Miller ("Dr. Miller") (Docket No. 12, pp. 393-95 of 530) and Dr. Kathleen O'Brien ("Dr. O'Brien") (Docket No. 12, pp. 395-404 of 530), and an impartial Vocational Expert ("VE") (Docket No. 12, pp. 404-14 of 530). ALJ Greene found Plaintiff to have a severe combination of tinnitus, hearing loss, and depression with an onset date of June 1, 2003 (Docket No. 12, p. 16 of 530). Despite these limitations, ALJ Greene determined, based on all the evidence presented, that Plaintiff had not been disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act at any time from the alleged onset date through the date of his decision (Docket No. 12, p. 20 of 530). Plaintiff's request for benefits was therefore denied (Docket No. 12, p. 20 of 530).

Plaintiff timely filed his Complaint seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying benefits (Docket No. 1). On April 3, 2013, the undersigned Magistrate ordered the matter be reversed and remanded to the Commissioner pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (Docket No. 21). The Magistrate ordered the Commissioner to consider the medical source opinions of Plaintiff's treating physicians and articulate the weight accorded to this evidence (Docket No. 21).

On July 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Attorneys' Fees (Docket No. 23). Defendant filed its Response on that same day (Docket No. 24).

III. EAJA STANDARD FOR AWARDING FEES

A judgment for costs may be awarded to a prevailing party in any civil action brought by or against the United States, or any agency or official thereof. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(a)(1). Such costs may include various court and filing fees. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(a)(1)-(2). A prevailing party may also be eligible to receive reasonable expenses and fees of his attorneys. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b). The United States, or any agency or official thereof, shall be liable for such expenses and fees "to the same extent that any other party would be liable under the common law or under the terms of any statute which specifically provides for such an award." 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b).

Within thirty days of a final judgment, a party seeking an award of fees and expenses shall submit to the court an application for such fees and expenses that shows satisfaction of four requirements: (1) the party is a prevailing party; (2) the party is eligible to receive an award under 28 U.S.C.A. § 2412(b); (3) the position of the United States was not substantially justified; and (4) an itemized statement from any attorney or expert witness representing or appearing on behalf of the party stating the actual time expended and the rate at which fees and other expenses were computed. 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B).

IV. ANALYSIS

Plaintiff contends: (1) he is a prevailing party; (2) he is eligible to receive EAJA fees; (3) the position of the government in denying his DIB was not substantially justified; and (4) the record has been properly supplemented with the basis for attorney fee calculations (Docket No. 23). Plaintiff seeks an award of attorney ...


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