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Terry v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

April 11, 2014

JAMES RUSSELL TERRY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING EAJA FEES

JAMES P. DONOHUE, Magistrate Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY CONCLUSION

This matter comes before the Court on the plaintiff's March 19, 2014 Motion for Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") Fees, including attorney's fees and costs under 28 U.S.C. § 2412 and 28 U.S.C. § 1920. Dkt. 18. The Commissioner opposes the motion. Dkt. 19. The undersigned, having reviewed the governing law and the parties' submissions, GRANTS plaintiff's Motion for EAJA Fees. Dkt. 18.

II. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY Plaintiff filed a claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental

Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-33 and 1381-83f, alleging disability beginning on April 25, 2009. AR at 35-36. The Commissioner denied plaintiff's claim initially and on reconsideration. AR at 86-101, 102, 103-22, 127-31. Plaintiff requested a hearing, which took place on January 9, 2012. AR at 31-81. On February 2, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled and denied benefits based on her finding that plaintiff could perform a specific job existing in significant numbers in the national economy. AR at 8-26. Plaintiff's request for review was denied by the Appeals Council, AR at 1-6, making the ALJ's ruling the "final decision" of the Commissioner as that term is defined by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Plaintiff timely appealed that final decision on July 10, 2013. Dkt. 3.

On January 6, 2014, the undersigned issued an Order reversing and remanding the case for further administrative proceedings. Dkt. 16. On March 19, 2014, the plaintiff submitted the instant Motion for EAJA Fees and an affidavit by plaintiff's counsel, Lynn Greiner. Dkt. 18 (Greiner Aff.). On March 31, 2014, the Commissioner opposed plaintiff's motion. Dkt. 19. Plaintiff replied on April 2, 2014. Dkt. 20.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standards of Review

1. Legal Standard under the EAJA

The Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") provides, in relevant part:

Except as otherwise specifically provided by statute, a court shall award to a prevailing party other than the United States fees and other expenses, in addition to any costs awarded pursuant to subsection (a) incurred by that party in any civil action (other than cases sounding in tort), including proceedings for judicial review of agency action, brought by or against the United States in any court having jurisdiction of that action, unless the court finds that the position of the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust.

28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).

Thus, to be eligible for attorney's fees under EAJA: (1) the claimant must be a "prevailing party"; (2) the government's position must not have been "substantially justified"; (3) no "special circumstances" exist that make an award of attorney's fees unjust; and (4) the fee request must be "reasonable." 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). See, e.g., Commissioner, INS v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 158 (1990); Perez-Arellano v. Smith, 279 F.3d 791, 792 (9th Cir. 2002).

Here, the Commissioner does not contest that plaintiff was the prevailing party in this action, nor claim that the total amount of fees requested is unreasonable, or that special circumstances exist such that an award of attorney's fees would be unjust. See Dkt. 19. Rather, the Commissioner argues ...


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