R. SPAULDING UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cause came on for consideration without oral argument on the
following motion filed herein:
MOTION: PLAINTIFF'S UNCONTESTED MOTION FOR
ATTORNEY'S FEES (Doc. No. 17)
FILED:February 21, 2018
Patricia Maye Reed, seeks an award of attorney's fees
pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. A final
judgment reversing the decision below was entered on
January 25, 2018. Doc. No. 16. Counsel for Plaintiff
represents that the Commissioner does not object to the
relief requested. Id. at 2. Thus, the motion is
now ripe for consideration.
through Richard A. Culbertson, Esq., her counsel of record,
seeks an award of $3, 714.23 in EAJA fees. Id. at
1. The fee request covers 1.0 hour of work performed by Mr.
Culbertson in 2017 and 0.2 hours performed by him in 2018,
8.8 hours of work performed by Sarah Fay, Esq., in 2017 and
1.3 hours of work performed by her in 2018, and 20 hours of
work performed by paralegal Michael Culbertson in 2017.
Id. at 2.
EAJA sets a ceiling of $125.00 on the hourly rate for
which attorneys may be compensated under the statute, which
courts may adjust upward based on changes in the Consumer
Price Index (“CPI”). 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(2)(A). Based on calculations of the cost-of-living
adjustment using the CPI, Attorney Culbertson requests fees
at the 2017 rate of $195.95 for the work performed by him
and Attorney Fay in 2017 and 2018. Doc. No. 17, at 2. He
provides an analysis of the cost-of-living adjustment using
the CPI. Id. at 7-8. Independent calculations show
that the average adjusted hourly rate for 2017 was
$196.78. Based on the cost-of-living adjustment,
the rates requested for 2017 and 2018 do not exceed the
EAJA cap of $125.00 per hour adjusted for inflation.
Therefore, I recommend that the Court approve those hourly
rates in the absence of objection.
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has
recognized that fees for work by a paralegal may be
recovered under the EAJA, to the extent that the paralegal
performs work traditionally done by an attorney. Jean
v. Nelson, 863 F.2d 759 (11th Cir. 1988). Under the
EAJA, the amount of fees awarded to non-attorneys shall be
based on the prevailing market rates for the kind and
quality of the services furnished. 28 U.S.C. §
2412(d)(2)(A). The summary of the work Paralegal Culbertson
performed reflects that he performed work traditionally
done by an attorney. Doc. No. 17 at 12. Attorney Culbertson
seeks a rate of $75.00 per hour for the work of Paralegal
Culbertson. I recommend that the Court find that this rate
is reasonable in Central Florida in the absence of
also recommend that the Court find that the total number of
hours worked by each of the legal professionals in this
case is reasonable in the absence of objection.
I note that Plaintiff signed a document in which she
assigned any fees awarded under the EAJA to her counsel.
Doc. No. 17-1. Plaintiff represents that the parties have
agreed that the Commissioner may, in her discretion, accept
Plaintiff's assignment of EAJA fees and pay fees
directly to Plaintiff's counsel. Doc. 17, at 2. Because
the Commissioner has taken inconsistent positions regarding
whether she will honor such an assignment, I recommend that
the Court not require that the EAJA fees be paid directly
to Plaintiff's counsel, but permit the Commissioner to
do so in her discretion.
it is RESPECTFULLY RECOMMENDED that
Plaintiff's Uncontested Motion for Attorney's Fees
(Doc. No. 17) be GRANTED in part, and that
the Court ORDER the Commissioner to pay
Plaintiff attorney's fees in the amount of $3,
party has fourteen days from this date to file written
objections to the Report and Recommendation's factual
findings and legal conclusions. A party's failure to
file written objections waives that party's right to
challenge on appeal any unobjected-to factual finding or
legal conclusion the district judge adopts from the Report
and Recommendation. See 11th Cir. R. 3-1.
Recommended in Orlando, Florida on February 26, 2018.