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Johnson v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 2, 2014

JOSEPH VICTOR JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

WILLIAM Q. HAYES, District Judge.

The matters before the Court are the Motion for Attorney's Fees Pursuant to the Equal Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d) (ECF No. 21), and the Amended and Corrected Motion for Attorney's Fees (ECF No. 30), both filed by Plaintiff Joseph Victor Johnson.

I. Background

On July 3, 2007, Plaintiff filed an initial application for Supplemental Security Income, alleging a disability beginning on April 1, 2003. (Administrative Record, ECF No. 9 at 94). On November 28, 2007, Plaintiff's initial application was denied. Id. at 78-81. On March 3, 2008, Plaintiff's application was denied on reconsideration. Id. at 83-87. On May 2, 2008, Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Id. at 89-90.

On April 22, 2009, the ALJ denied Plaintiff benefits after finding that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Id. at 6-26. On May 22, 2009, the Appeals Council adopted the ALJ's findings. Id. at 1-3.

Plaintiff sought judicial review of the Commissioner's decision in United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. On September 16, 2010, the district court granted Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and denied the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment. Id. at 415-21. The district court remanded the case to the Appeals Council for further administrative proceedings. Id. at 415-16.

On November 6, 2010, the Appeals Council remanded Plaintiff's claim to an ALJ for further administrative proceedings. Id. at 423-24. On June 4, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff's application for benefits. Id. at 352-72. The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Id. at 365.

On July 31, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint in this Court pursuant to section 405(g) of the Social Security Act, seeking judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner to deny Plaintiff's claim for disability benefits. (ECF No. 1). On October 17, 2012, Defendant filed an Answer (ECF No. 8) and lodged the Administrative Record. (ECF No. 9). On November 28, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 12). On December 31, 2012, Defendant filed an Amended Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment and Opposition. (ECF No. 16). On January 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Reply. (ECF No. 17).

On July 16, 2013, the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation, recommending that the Court deny Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and grant Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 18). On July 30, 2013, Plaintiff filed Objections to the Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 19).

On September 30, 2013, this Court adopted in part and did not adopt in part the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation. (ECF No. 20). The Court adopted the Report and Recommendation with respect to the ALJ's decision to reject the opinions of Plaintiff's treating psychiatrists, but otherwise did not adopt the Report and Recommendation. Id. at 18. The Court granted in part Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and denied Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Id. at 18-19. The Court remanded Plaintiff's case to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings. Id. at 19.

On December 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed the Motion for Attorney's Fees Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). (ECF No. 21). On February 21, 2014, Defendant filed an Opposition. (ECF No. 26). On March 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Reply. (ECF No. 28). On May 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed the Amended and Corrected Motion for Attorney's Fees. (ECF No. 30).

II. Contentions of the Parties

Plaintiff contends that he is entitled to attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d) ("EAJA") on the grounds that Plaintiff was the prevailing party, Defendant's position was not substantially justified, and the attorney's fees claimed are reasonable. (ECF No. 21 at 2-4, 9). Plaintiff's counsel, John V. Johnson, includes in the motion an itemized record of time expended on this case. Id. at 9. Plaintiff seeks EAJA attorney's fees for 55 hours of work completed in 2012 and 2013.[1] (ECF Nos. 21 at 9, 30 at 1).

Defendant contends that Plaintiff is not entitled to fees under the EAJA on the grounds that "the government's position was substantially justified" and that "Plaintiff's fee request is excessive and unreasonable." (ECF No. 26 at 6, 8). Defendant contends her "string ...


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