United States District Court, D. Connecticut
ORDER APPROVING STIPULATION FOR ALLOWANCE OF FEES
UNDER THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT [DOC. #39]
Sarah A. L. Merriam United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on a joint stipulation requesting
payment of attorney's fees to plaintiff's counsel
under the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA” or
the “Act”). See Doc. #39. For the reasons set
forth below, the Court APPROVES and SO
ORDERS the parties' Stipulation for
Allowance of Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act
[Doc. #39], for the stipulated amount of
$9, 020.00 in attorney fees and $17.00 in
filed an application for SSI on March 11, 2014, alleging
disability beginning August 17, 2012. See Certified
Transcript of the Administrative Record, Doc. #17 and
attachments, compiled on April 14, 2018, (hereinafter
“Tr.”) at 297-305.
application was denied initially on July 9, 2014, see Tr.
236-240, and upon reconsideration on December 24, 2014, see
August 11, 2016, plaintiff, represented by Attorney Meryl
Anne Spat, appeared and testified before Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Bruce H. Zwecker. See Tr. 133-186.
On September 15, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision. See Tr. 21-35. On December 18, 2017, the Appeals
Council denied plaintiff's request for review, making the
ALJ's September 15, 2016, decision the final decision of
the Commissioner. See Tr. 1-7. After exhausting her
administrative remedies, plaintiff filed the Complaint in
this case on February 15, 2018. See Doc. #1.
April 23, 2018, the Commissioner (“defendant”)
filed the official transcript. See Doc. #17 and attachments.
On August 6, 2018, plaintiff filed a motion to reverse the
decision of the Commissioner. See Doc. #25. On October 5,
2018, defendant filed a motion to affirm the decision of the
Commissioner. See Doc. #29.
March 18, 2019, the undersigned issued a Ruling granting
plaintiff's motion to reverse, to the extent plaintiff
sought a remand for further administrative proceedings. See
Doc. #33. Judgment entered in plaintiff's favor on March
18, 2019. See Doc. #34.
2, 2019, plaintiff filed a motion seeking attorney's fees
under the Equal Access to Justice Act. See Doc. #35. The
Commissioner filed a response, opposing plaintiff's
motion. See Doc. #36. On July 5, 2019, the Court ordered:
ORDER Re: Doc. #35 Motion for Attorney Fees. The Standing
Scheduling Order issued in this case (Doc. #5-1) requires
that a party filing a “Motion for Attorney's Fees
under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C.
§2412... must attest therein that he or she first
attempted to settle the issue of attorney fees under the
Equal Access to Justice Act with opposing counsel.”
Doc. #5-1 at 1. Plaintiff has not included such an
attestation with her motion, and defense counsel represents
that plaintiff's counsel has not responded to defense
counsel's attempts to settle this issue. See Doc. #36 at
9. Plaintiff's counsel shall contact defense counsel
forthwith and discuss possible resolution of the
attorney's fees issue. On or before July 17, 2019,
plaintiff's counsel shall file a statement which complies
with the scheduling order entered in this case, affirming
that she has attempted to resolve the issue of attorney fees
with counsel for the Commissioner, and reporting whether a
resolution has been reached. It is so ordered.
Doc. #37. On August 4, 2019, plaintiff's counsel filed a
joint Stipulation for Allowance of Fees under the Equal
Access to Justice Act
(“Stipulation”). See Doc. #39. The Court
TERMINATES plaintiff's original motion
for fees [Doc. #35] in light of the stipulation.
who prevails in a civil action against the United States may
seek an award of fees and costs under the EAJA, 28 U.S.C.
§2412, the purpose of which is “to eliminate for
the average person the financial disincentive to challenging
unreasonable government actions.” Commissioner, I.N.S.
v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 163 (1990) (citing Sullivan v. Hudson,
490 U.S. 877, 883 (1989)). In order for an award of
attorney's fees to enter, this Court must find (1) that
the plaintiff is a prevailing party, (2) that the
Commissioner's position was without substantial
justification, (3) that no special circumstances exist that
would make an award unjust, and (4) that the fee petition was
filed within thirty days of final judgment. See 28 U.S.C.
the parties have reached an agreement as to the appropriate
award of fees in this matter, the Court is obligated to
review the fee application and determine whether the proposed
fee award is reasonable. “[T]he determination of a
reasonable fee under the EAJA is for the court rather than
the parties by way of stipulation.” Pribek v.
Sec'y, Dep't of Health & Human Servs., 717
F.Supp. 73, 75 (W.D.N.Y. 1989) (quotation marks and citation
omitted); see also Rogers v. Colvin, No. 4:13CV945(TMC), 2014
WL 630907, at *1 (D.S.C. Feb. 18, 2014); Design & Prod.,
Inc. v. United States, 21 Cl. Ct. 145, 152 (1990) (Under the
EAJA, “it is the court's responsibility to
independently assess the appropriateness and measure of
attorney's fees to be awarded in a particular case,
whether or not an amount is offered as ...