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William W. Copeland v. Commissioner of Social

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


August 7, 2012

WILLIAM W. COPELAND, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Craig M. Kellison United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, who is proceeding with retained counsel, brought this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Final judgment remanding the matter back to the agency for further proceedings was entered on April 8, 2010. Pending before the court is plaintiff's opposed motion for an award of attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act ("EAJA") (Doc. 31).

Plaintiff seeks an award of $10,180.51 representing 56.1 hours of work. Defendant objects to this amount, arguing that the time spent briefing the case was unreasonable. The court agrees. According to plaintiff's counsel's declaration, she expended approximately 45 to 50 hours preparing the opening brief.*fn1 The reasonableness of hours expended is determined by such factors as the novelty and difficulty of the issues presented and the experience of counsel. See Widrig v. Apfel, 140 F.3d 1207 (9th Cir. 1998). In this case, none of the issues involved were particularly novel or difficult. Rather, the issues raised were of the garden variety typically raised in social security cases, and typically raised by plaintiff's counsel in other cases. Moreover, it is undisputed that plaintiff's counsel has extensive experience representing social security claimants in this court. Given these factors, the court finds that the time spent preparing the opening brief was unreasonable. Counsel could have been expected to complete this task in no more than 35 hours. The requested EAJA fee award shall, therefore, be reduced by $2,583.60 (15 hours at an hourly rate of $172.24).

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's motion for an award of fees under the EAJA (Doc. 31) is granted; and

2. Plaintiff is awarded $7,596.91, payable to plaintiff.


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