United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING JOINT MOTION FOR APPROVAL OF
ATTORNEY'S FEES PURSUANT TO THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE
ACT, 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d) (Doc. No. 17)
Anthony J. Battaglia United States District Judge.
before the Court is Plaintiff Jaime Jose Mendoza
(“Plaintiff”) and Defendant Nancy A.
Berryhill's (“Defendant”) joint motion for
approval of attorney's fees pursuant to the Equal Access
to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)
filed on October 31, 2017. (Doc. No. 17.) For the reasons set
forth below, the Court GRANTS the
23, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint requesting judicial
review of a final administrative decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security denying Plaintiff disability insurance.
(Doc. No. 1.) On October 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion
for summary judgment or motion for reversal and/or remand.
(Doc. No. 10.) On December 21, 2016, after a joint motion for
extension of time to file was granted, Defendant filed her
cross motion for summary judgment and opposition to
Plaintiff's motion. (Doc. Nos. 11, 12, 13.) On August 11,
2017, Magistrate Judge Karen S. Crawford filed a report and
recommendation (“R&R”) that recommended that
the district court grant Plaintiff's motion for remand,
deny Defendant's motion for summary judgment, and enter
judgment in Plaintiff's favor. (Doc. No. 15 at 32.) On
September 11, 2017, finding that no party had filed
objections to Magistrate Judge Crawford's R&R, the
district judge adopted the R&R in whole. (Doc. No. 16.)
On October 31, 2017, the parties filed the present joint
motion for attorney's fees. (Doc. No. 17.)
the EAJA, prevailing plaintiffs are entitled to recover their
attorneys' fees and costs unless the government's
position was substantially justified, special circumstances
would make an award unjust, or the application for fees is
not timely filed. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2412(d)(1)(A),
(1)(B); Commissioner, I.N.S. v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154,
158 (1990). Thus, once a party establishes its status as a
prevailing party under the EAJA, a rebuttable presumption
arises that it is entitled to an award of fees. Meinhold
v. U.S. Dep't of Defense, 123 F.3d 1275, 1277-78,
amended by, 131 F.3d 842 (9th Cir. 1997). Once a
court finds that a party is entitled to attorneys' fees,
it must then determine if the fee is reasonable. Sneede
by Thompson v. Coye, 856 F.Supp. 526, 530 (N.D. Cal.
1994). This inquiry focuses on the reasonable number of hours
expended and the appropriate hourly rate. Id.
Plaintiff is the prevailing party as his motion for remand
was granted in his favor. See Texas State Teachers
Ass'n v. Garland Independent School Dist., 489 U.S.
782, 782 (1989) (holding that a prevailing party is one that
succeeds on “any significant issue in the litigation
which achieves some benefit [they] sought in bringing the
suit.”). Thus, in the present case, there is no dispute
that Plaintiff has “prevailed.”
as this is a joint motion, Defendant has not tried to
demonstrate that the fees should be denied because the
“position” of the United States was
“substantially justified.” Oregon Nat. Res.
Council v. Madigan, 980 F.2d 1330, 1331 (9th Cir. 1992).
The Court notes that there are also no special circumstances
whereby the Court may deny fees to a prevailing party.
See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A).
Court must now determine if the fee is
"reasonable." Here, Plaintiff requests he be
awarded attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $5,
000.00, which represents the compensation for all legal
services rendered on behalf of Plaintiff by counsel in
connection with this civil action. (Doc. No. 17 at 2.) Though
Plaintiff has failed to provide the Court with the number of
hours expended in this litigation and their hourly rate, the
Court finds that a fee of $5, 000.00 is reasonable in
general, and unopposed by defendant. See Keo Laosouvanh
v. Astrue, No. CIV S-06-0589 DAD, 2009 WL 799122, at
*2-5 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 24, 2009) (finding award of $9, 740.00
in attorney's fees under the EAJA reasonable, based on
the rational amount of time expended); see also Barber v.
Astrue, No. CIV S-00-1286 WBS DAD, 2008 WL 2705147, at
*3-5 (E.D. Cal. July 8, 2008) (finding a fee of $21, 928.31
reasonable based on over 140 hours of attorney time spent at
an hourly rate ranging from $142.00 to $167.00).
and for good cause appearing, IT IS HEREBY
joint motion for attorney's fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412(d) of the EAJA is GRANTED
consistent with this order; and
Fees will be made payable to Jaime Mendoza, but if the
Department of the Treasury determines that Jaime Mendoza does
not owe a federal debt, then the government will cause the
payment of fees to be made directly to Matty Sandoval,
pursuant to the assignment executed by Jaime Mendoza.