Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Rovinsky v. Saul

United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division

November 14, 2019

ROSELINE ROVINKSY, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          HONORABLE CHRISTOPHER P. TUTTE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the Plaintiff's Petition for Attorney Fees. (Doc. 15). For the reasons discussed below, the Plaintiff's motion is granted.

         I.

         The Plaintiff initiated this action in May 2019, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying her claim for Social Security Disability Benefits. (Doc. 1). On August 2, 2019, the Commissioner moved for entry of judgment in the Plaintiff's favor and requested that the case be remanded under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. 11). The Court granted that motion on August 9, 2019, (Doc. 13), and the Clerk of Court entered Judgment for the Plaintiff that same day (Doc. 14).

         The instant motion, filed on October 31, 2019, and unopposed by the Commissioner, followed. (Doc. 15).

         II.

         The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA or the Act) authorizes a court to award attorney's fees and costs to any party prevailing in litigation against the United States (including proceedings for judicial review of agency action), unless the court determines that the government's position was substantially justified or that special circumstances exist that make such an award unjust. See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). To warrant an award of attorney's fees and costs under the Act, three conditions must be met: (1) the party must file an application for fees within thirty days of the final judgment; (2) the party must qualify as the prevailing party; and (3) the government's position must not have been “substantially justified” and no other special circumstances must exist to make an award unjust. Patton v. Berryhill, 2017 WL 6520474, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 18, 2017) (citing Myers v. Sullivan, 916 F.2d 659, 666 (11th Cir. 1990)); 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d).

         These conditions have been satisfied here, as the Commissioner effectively acknowledges by his lack of opposition. Thus, an award of fees and costs under the Act is proper.

         To determine the amount of fees to be awarded under the Act, the Court is guided by:

[the] prevailing market rates for the kind and quality of the services furnished, except that . . . attorney fees shall not be awarded in excess of $125 per hour unless the court determines that an increase in the cost of living or a special factor, such as the limited availability of qualified attorneys for the proceedings involved, justifies a higher fee.

28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A).

         Determination of the appropriate hourly rate involves a two-step process. First, the court must assess the market rate for similar services provided by attorneys of comparable skill, experience, and reputation. Meyer v. Sullivan, 958 F.2d 1029, 1033 (11th Cir. 1992). Second, if the prevailing market rate exceeds $125 per hour, the court must decide whether to adjust the hourly rate for inflation or some special factor. Id. at 1033-34.

         The market rate during the relevant time period for the type of work at issue here is not subject to precise calculation. In the Court's experience, counsel submitting EAJA fee applications for work performed during and after 2017 typically have sought hourly rates ranging from $175 to more than $195. As a result, the hourly rate charged by competent attorneys in this market has, for some time, exceeded the statutory cap of $125. Accordingly, the Court finds it appropriate to deviate upward from the EAJA's base rate to account for increases in the cost of living.

         Courts in this district and elsewhere routinely calculate cost of living adjustments under the Act by using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index (CPI). See, e.g., Wilborn v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2013 WL 1760259, *1 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 24, 2013); Rodgers v. Astrue, 657 F.Supp.2d 1275, 1277 (M.D. Fla. July 22, 2009); Morrison v. Astrue, 2010 WL 547775, *2 (S.D. Fla. Feb. 12, 2010); see alsoSprinkle v. Colvin, 777 F.3d 421, 428 (7th Cir. 2015) (collecting cases in various circuits using the CPI to determine hourly rate adjustments). The Court finds it reasonable here to use the CPI ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.