United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR EAJA
C. Coughenour UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Georgiy
Verdiyan's motion for Equal Access to Justice Act
attorney fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2412 (Dkt. No.
21). Having considered the parties' briefing and the
relevant record, the Court finds oral argument unnecessary
and hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's motion for the reasons
challenged the Social Security Commissioner's finding of
nondisability. (See generally Dkt. No. 3.) The
Commissioner opposed the motion, and this Court reversed and
remanded the Commissioner's final decision for further
proceedings. (See Dkt. Nos. 15, 18.) The instant
motion followed to seek attorney fees pursuant to the Equal
Access to Justice Act (EAJA). (Dkt. No. 21.)
asks this Court to authorize attorney fees in the amount of
$8, 390.17. (Dkt. No. 28 at 6.) Plaintiff states that 30.4
hours of attorney billable hours were expended between Eitan
Yanich and Noah Yanich-16.2 hours and 14.2 hours, respectively.
(Dkt. No. 21-3.) The Commissioner concedes Plaintiff's
request for attorney fees is appropriate, but argues the
amount requested is not reasonable. (Dkt. No. 24 at 2-3.)
there is no disagreement as to whether Plaintiff is entitled
to reasonable attorney fees, the Court must determine the
proper amount of attorney fees. “[T]he amount of the
fee, of course, must be determined on the facts of each
case” starting at the number of hours expended on
litigation. Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424,
429-33 (1983). Although there is no explicit hour range
established by the Ninth Circuit as reasonable, the Sixth
Circuit has held that expending 30-40 hours on a Social
Security case is reasonable. Hayes v. Sec'y of Health
and Human Servs., 923 F.2d 418, 420 (6th Cir. 1990);
see also Pete v. Colvin, Case No. C15-5391-RSM, Dkt.
No. 23 at 1, Dkt. No. 24 at 8 (W.D. Wash. 2009) (finding
expending 41.0 hours on a similar Social Security case was
reasonable). If the Government disputes the reasonableness of
the fee, it “has the burden of rebuttal that requires
submission of evidence to the district court challenging the
accuracy and reasonableness of the hours charged or the facts
asserted by the prevailing party in its submitted
affidavits.” Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d
1392, 1397-98 (9th Cir. 1992).
the Commissioner suggests the case was overstaffed, and
therefore the hours requested are unreasonable. (Dkt. No. 24
at 4.) However, the 30.4 hours expended between Eitan and
Noah are consistent with other reasonable attorney fees
requests. See Hayes, 923 F.2d at 420; Pete v.
Colvin, Case No. C15-5391-RSM, Dkt. No. 24 at 8. The
Commissioner does not provide a compelling argument or offer
any support that utilizing the services of multiple attorneys
justifies a finding that the case is overstaffed or the hours
expended are unreasonable.
Commissioner also argues Noah's hours are unreasonable
because Noah is not admitted to practice in Washington State
or the Western District of Washington, has not shown that he
would be eligible for admission to this Court pro hac
vice, and only performed a limited role. (Dkt. No. 24 at
2-3.) As such, the Commissioner maintains Noah should not be
compensated at the prevailing hourly attorney rate ($192.68),
but rather at an hourly paralegal rate ($100). (Id.
at 7.) The Court agrees with the Commissioner that the Ninth
Circuit has recognized that different types of work are
billed at different rates. (Dkt. No. 24 at 4) (citing
Nadarajah v. Holder, 569 F.3d 906, 918 (9th Cir.
2009); In re Hunt, 238 F.3d 1098, 1105 (9th Cir.
2001)). However, the Court disagrees that Noah should be
precluded from an attorney hourly rate.
parties cite to Winterrowd v. American General Annuity
Insurance Company, 556 F.3d 815 (9th Cir. 2009), which
the Court finds instructive. In Winterrowd, the
Ninth Circuit reversed the Central District of
California's denial of attorney fees. The Ninth Circuit
found attorney fees to be reasonable where the attorney
“(a) [was] not a member of the California state bar,
(b) [did] not physically appear in the Central District, (c)
[did] not sign pleadings in a case before the Central
District, (d) [had] minimal contact with clients and no
direct contact with opposing counsel in the case, (e) [was]
supervised by [a member of the California state bar], and (f)
[was] not admitted pro hac vice in the case, but no
evidence in the record show[ed] that he would not have
routinely been so admitted had he applied.”
Winterrowd, 556 F.3d at 817.
facts in this case are nearly identical to
Winterrowd. Noah is a qualified attorney who
graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan
Law School and is admitted to many federal and state courts.
(Dkt. No. 28 at 3.) Under Western District of Washington
Local Rule 83.1, Noah would be eligible for routine admission
pro hac vice. Moreover, it is also worth noting that
Noah has been awarded fees at an attorney hourly rate in over
100 EAJA attorney fees cases. (Dkt. No. 28 at 2.) His
requested hourly rate, $192.68, is the Ninth Circuit's
statutory maximum for attorneys. Ninth Circuit Rule 39-1.6;
Thangaraja v. Gonzales, 428 F.3d 870, 876 (9th Cir.
2005). Thus, the Commissioner's arguments against
awarding Noah an attorney hourly rate do not persuade the
Court that the amount Plaintiff requests is unreasonable. The
motion for attorney fees is GRANTED.
foregoing reasons, the motion for attorney fees (Dkt. No. 21)
is GRANTED. Included in this attorney fees award, Plaintiff
also requests the additional fees incurred while preparing
the reply brief for this motion. See Cmm'r, I.N.S. v.
Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 163-66 (1990) (holding that attorney
fees should be awarded for additional time reasonably spent
defending the application for EAJA attorney fees). But, it is
unclear from the briefing if the attorneys expended 9.7 hours
or 10.2 hours on the reply brief. (See Dkt. No. 28
at 7.) Additionally, no documentation was submitted detailing
the hours worked on the reply brief. Therefore, Plaintiff is
ORDERED to submit detailed ...