United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEY'S
WILLIAM I. GARFINKEL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's
Fees and Costs under the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). [Doc. #
27]. The Commissioner does not dispute that Plaintiff is a
prevailing party who is entitled to reasonable fees but does
contend that the EAJA fee requested should be reduced. [Doc.
# 28]. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion is
granted in part.
filed this action on August 14, 2017, seeking judicial review
of the Commissioner's decision denying his applications
for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income. The matter was fully briefed, and the Undersigned
heard oral argument on November 30, 2018. On February 4,
2019, the Undersigned issued a ruling in Plaintiff's
favor and an order remanding the case to the Commissioner
solely for a calculation of benefits. [Doc. # 25]. On May 5,
2019, Plaintiff timely moved for an award of attorney's
fees; his attorney, Olia Yelner, filed an affidavit, her time
sheets, and a copy of the fee agreement between her and
Plaintiff. [Doc. # 27]. Plaintiff seeks fees in the amount of
$10, 869.39, which represents 56.7 hours of work at a rate of
$191.70 per hour. The Commissioner filed a brief in
opposition to the motion on May 17, 2019. [Doc. # 28]. The
Commissioner does not dispute the requested hourly rate but
does contend that the total hours requested are unreasonable.
EAJA directs that courts “shall award to a prevailing
party . . . fees and other expenses incurred by that party,
” 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). An award of fees under the EAJA must be
“reasonable.” Taylor v. Astrue, No.
3:09-cv-1791(MRK), 2011 WL 1752239, at *3 (D. Conn. May 9,
2011) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 2412(b)). The party seeking
an award of fees has the burden of showing the reasonableness
of the requested fees. Id. Determination of what
constitutes a reasonable fee rests within the sound
discretion of the district court. Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 437 (1983). Courts should
exclude from fee awards “hours that were not reasonably
expended.” Id. at 434. The prevailing
party's attorney “should make a good faith effort
to exclude from a fee request hours that are excessive,
redundant, or otherwise unnecessary, just as a lawyer in
private practice ethically is obligated to exclude such hours
from his fee submission.” Id. Thus,
“[h]ours that are not properly billed to one's
client also are not properly billed to one's
adversary pursuant to statutory authority.”
Id. (quoting Copeland v. Marshall, 641 F.2d
880, 891 (1980)) (emphasis in original).
in this district have found that Social Security cases
generally require, on average, between twenty and forty hours
of attorney time to prosecute. See Seggerman v.
Colvin, No. 3:11-cv-1219 (JBA), 2014 WL 2534876, at *3
(D. Conn. June 5, 2014); Poulin v. Astrue, No.
3:10-cv-1930 (JBA), 2012 WL 264579, at *3 (D. Conn. Jan. 27,
2012). “However, in cases where the specific
circumstances warrant it, courts do not hesitate to award
fees in excess of twenty to forty hours.”
Seggerman, 2014 WL 2534876, at *3. When determining
how many hours in a particular case are reasonable, courts
weigh factors such as the size of the administrative record,
the complexity of the factual and legal issues involved,
counsel's experience, and whether counsel represented the
claimant during the administrative proceedings. Id.
Plaintiff's counsel seeks reimbursement for a total of
56.7 hours of attorney time. The administrative record in
this case was 900 pages, which is not especially lengthy.
And, while counsel for Plaintiff did draft a comprehensive
brief, the factual and legal issues involved were not overly
complex, particularly given Plaintiff's counsel's
extensive experience in this area of the law and that she
represented Plaintiff at the administrative level. Thus, the
Court will reduce the amount of time reviewing the record and
performing research from 14.8 hours to 10.8 hours.
Plaintiff seeks reimbursement for attorney time spent
reviewing standard court filings and emails from the court,
and completing other tasks that are clerical in nature, such
as compiling documents for service, filing, and calendaring
dates. Such clerical tasks are not compensable under the
EAJA. See J.O. v. Astrue, No. 3:11-cv-1768(DFM),
2014 WL 1031666, at *2 (D. Conn. Mar.14, 2014) (reduction for
communication with clerk's office); Gelinas v.
Colvin, No. 3:13-cv-891 (CSH), 2014 WL 2567086, at *2
(D. Conn. June 6, 2014) (reduction for various clerical tasks
including downloading court documents, preparing documents
for service, and calendaring dates); Roman v.
Colvin, No. 3:15-cv-00917(SALM), 2015 WL 9462061, at *3
(D. Conn. Dec. 28, 2015) (reduction for review of court
filings due to the “routine nature of the ECF
notices”). Thus, the Court finds a reduction in time by
8.2 hours for the performance of clerical tasks is warranted.
Court has carefully reviewed Plaintiff's counsel's
itemization of time filed in support of the EAJA petition and
finds the remaining time entries to be reasonable.
Accordingly, the Court awards Plaintiff's counsel a total
of $8, 530.65 in fees, which equates to 44.5 hours at a rate
of $191.70 per hour.
reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's Motion for an Award
of Fees is granted ...