United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
JOHNSTON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
judicial review by the undersigned, Mr. LaPointe's case
was remanded to the Commissioner of Social Security for
calculation of an award of benefits, after the Court
concluded that the Administrative Law Judge's (ALJ)
determination denying benefits was not supported by
substantial evidence. (Doc. 17). Mr. LaPointe now requests
attorney's fees and costs under the Equal Access to
Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d). (Doc. 19). Mr.
LaPointe is entitled to attorney's fees and costs by
statute. Mr. LaPointe will be awarded $4, 500.00 in fees and
$400.00 in costs, to be paid directly to Mr. LaPointe.
Jurisdiction and Venue
District Court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). This case is assigned to the undersigned by consent
of the parties. (Doc. 5). Venue is proper in the Great Falls
Division of the District of Montana because Mr. LaPointe
resides in Cascade County, Montana. 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e);
Local Rule 1.2(c)(2).
8, 2017, the Court remanded the case to the Commissioner for
calculation of benefits. (Doc. 17). On September 5, 2017, Mr.
LaPointe filed an Motion for Attorney Fees under the EAJA,
requesting $4, 500.00 in attorney's fees and $400.00 in
costs, to be paid directly to his attorney. (Doc. 19). The
Commissioner does not oppose the award of fees or costs in
Mr. LaPointe's motion, but does argue that such amounts
must be paid directly to Mr. LaPointe. (Doc. 20). The motion
is ripe for decision.
Equal Access to Justice Act
EAJA provides that “a court shall award to a prevailing
party other than the United States fees and other expenses .
. . incurred by that party in any civil action . . . unless
the court finds that the position of the United States was
substantially justified or that special circumstances make an
award unjust.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A). It is
the burden of the government to prove its position was
substantially justified. Meier v. Colvin, 727 F.3d
867, 870 (9th Cir. 2013).
Calculation of fees and costs
proper method of calculating an award of attorney's fees
is the “lodestar” method. Morales v. City of
San Rafael, 96 F.3d 359, 363 (9th Cir. 1996). The
“lodestar” method multiplies the hours reasonably
expended by the prevailing party on the litigation by a
reasonable hourly rate. Id. An attorney's hourly
rates “are to be calculated according to the prevailing
market rates in the relevant community.” Blum v.
Stenson, 465 U.S. 886, 895 (1984). Finally, the party
seeking fees bears the burden of submitting detailed time
records justifying the hours claimed. Chalmers, 796
F.2d at 1210. Contemporaneous records of hours worked are
preferred in the Ninth Circuit. Fischer v. SJB-P.D.,
Inc., 214 F.3d 1115, 1121 (9th Cir. 2000).
March 10, 2011, Mr. LaPointe applied for disability benefits
and supplemental security income. (Tr. 197-209). The
Administration denied his claim on November 9, 2011. (Tr.
80-92). Upon reconsideration, the Administration affirmed its