Bathrick v. Astrue
In an atypical case, a court can award a plaintiff approximately twice the amount of attorneys' fees typically awarded to a prevailing plaintiff under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 United States Code §2412(d)(1)(A ). The plaintiff, a prevailing party in a Social Security case, requested attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act. The court found that the plaintiff's attorney was entitled to a cost-of-living increase, based on the Consumer Price Index, of $188 per hour, for work performed between 2010 and 2012. The court rejected the defendant's claim that the plaintiff's attorney was only entitled to an adjusted rate of $175 per hour for work performed in 2010 and $180 per hour for work performed in 2011. The plaintiff's attorney may be awarded attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act at a uniform rate across several years, provided that the rate is "reasonable." The defendant also argued that the amount of time spent on legal services was excessive. Although routine Social Security cases generally take about 20 to 40 hours to prosecute, the plaintiff's attorney spent 87 hours. The court approved 20 hours that the plaintiff's attorney spent to file a response to the defendant's motion to affirm. The court also approved 40 hours that the plaintiff's attorney spent on a "thoughtful and well reasoned motion" to request that the court reverse the defendant's decision. The court also approved four hours on a response to the defendant's objection to the court's recommended ruling and nearly 13 hours on a response to the defendant's objection to attorneys' fees. The amount of time spent to reply to the defendant's objections was reasonable. The court approved the plaintiff's request for 87 hours of legal services and attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $16,442.