United States District Court, N.D. Florida, Tallahassee Division
ORDER ADOPTING THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
WILLIAM STAFFORD SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
the court is the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation (doc. 20) docketed May 23, 2017. The
magistrate judge recommends that Plaintiff's application
for attorney's fees pursuant to the Equal Access to
Justice Act be granted. The Commissioner has filed objections
(doc. 21) to the report and recommendation, arguing that
Plaintiff seeks compensation for an unreasonable number of
hours of work.
Commissioner cites a case from this district, Jackson v.
Astrue, No. 3:09cv218-MCR/MD, 2010 WL 2330269, at *2
(N.D. Fla. June 10, 2010), report and
recommendation adopted, No. 3:09cv218-MCR/MD, 2010 WL
2330246 (N.D. Fla. June 10, 2010), wherein the magistrate
judge stated that “[t]he usual time spent handling
these cases, beginning to end, is twenty-five to thirty
hours.” In Jackson, the administrative record
was 457 pages; the plaintiff's memorandum in support of
his complaint was twenty-six (26) pages; in response, the
Commissioner filed a motion to remand; the magistrate judge
recommended that the Commissioner's motion to remand be
granted; and the plaintiff filed no objections to the report
and recommendation. Although the plaintiff requested fees for
42.6 hours, fees were awarded for 32.7 hours of attorney time
spent representing the plaintiff in court-related
case, Plaintiff seeks compensation for 56.85 hours spent by
two attorneys representing Plaintiff in this court. The
record suggests that this case was considerably more
complicated and required more attorney time than
Jackson. The administrative record was 1034 pages,
more than double that in Jackson. In a report and
recommendation of forty-four (44) pages, the magistrate judge
recommended that the Commissioner's denial of benefits be
affirmed. Here, unlike in Jackson, Plaintiff filed
twenty-nine (29) pages of objections to the magistrate
judge's adverse report and recommendation.
Plaintiff's objections resulted in this judge's
rejection of the report and recommendation and remand of the
case to the Commissioner. The magistrate judge, who
painstakingly reviewed the lengthy record in this case in
preparing his report and recommendation, concluded that 56.85
hours was not an unreasonable amount of attorney time spent
on the case. In rejecting the magistrate judge's report
and recommendation, this judge conducted a de novo review of
the lengthy record in the case and now likewise concludes
that counsel spent a reasonable amount of hours on this case.
reaching this conclusion, the court recognizes that each case
is examined on its own merits. While, in Jackson, a
magistrate judge opined that twenty-five to thirty hours was
the “usual time spent” on EAJA cases, other
courts have reached differing estimates regarding a
“typical” range of hours. See Lavoie v.
Colvin, No. 14cv1352-JWL, 2016 WL 4181323, at *3 (D.
Kan. Aug.8, 2016) (“[A] typical number of hours claimed
in EAJA applications in ‘straightforward'
disability cases is between thirty and forty hours.”);
Marshall v. Astrue, No. 7:09cv33 (HL), 2011 WL
2604768, at *2 (M.D. Ga. May 10, 2011) (“The typical
attorney work time expended in an EAJA case ranges between
twenty (20) and forty (40) hours.”); Schulten v.
Astrue, 08cv1181, 2010 WL 2135474, *6 (N.D. Ill. May 28,
2010) (“The requested number of hours-48.75-is within
the permissible range for cases like this, which is,
generally speaking, 40 to 60 hours.”); Burleson v.
Astrue, No. C07-2019-RSL, 2009 WL 364115, at *3 (W.D.
Wash. Feb. 9, 2009) (“There is no hard-and-fast cap on
attorney fee awards at 40 hours that should be applied
regardless of the circumstances.”); Nickola v.
Barnhart, No. 03cv622-C, 2004 WL 2713075, at *2 (W.D.
Wis. Nov. 24, 2004) (“[T]he roughly 60 hours of
combined law clerk and attorney time it took to produce
plaintiff's briefs was not excessive.”);
Patterson v. Apfel, 99 F.Supp.2d 1212, 1214 n. 2
(C.D. Cal. 2000) (collecting cases involving reasonable EAJA
fee awards between 20 and 54.5 hours). Here, whether or not
the case falls within whatever may be defined as a
“typical” range of EAJA cases, the court finds
that the hours expended by counsel were not unreasonable
given the size of the administrative record, the multiple
issues involved, and the history of the case.
it is ORDERED:
magistrate judge's report and recommendation (doc. 20) is
ADOPTED and incorporated into this order.
Plaintiff's application for attorney's fees (doc. 17)
Plaintiff Carolyn Bethea is awarded attorney's fees under
EAJA in the amount of $11, 021.82.
Pursuant to Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, 589
(2010), payment shall be made payable to Carolyn Bethea and
delivered to Bethea's counsel, subject to offset by any
debt owed by Bethea to the United States that may be
identified by the Department of the Treasury. If the United
States Department of the Treasury determines that Bethea does
not owe a federal debt, the ...