United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Rocheal Lewis's
(“Plaintiff”) Motion for Attorney's Fees
Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. §
2412  (the “Motion”).
26, 2016, the Court issued its Order  vacating and
remanding the Commissioner's decision under sentence four
of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). On September 13, 2016, Plaintiff,
through her counsel, filed the Motion seeking an
attorney's fee award. Plaintiff requests a total award of
$7, 547.31 for 36.7 hours of attorney work at $189.39 per
hour, and 8 hours of paralegal work at $75 per hour. ([21.1]
at 3). Plaintiff also requests $19.41 in expenses for serving
her Complaint by Certified Mail. ([21.1] at 3).
EAJA provides that “a court shall award to a prevailing
party other than the United States” reasonable
attorney's fees and costs “incurred by that party
in any civil action . . . brought by or against the United
States in any court having jurisdiction of that 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).
“To recover attorneys' fees under the EAJA,
plaintiff must show that: (1) she is a prevailing party; (2)
the government's position was not substantially
justified; (3) there are no ‘special circumstances'
that would make a fee award unjust; and (4) the fee
application was submitted within 30 days of final judgment in
the action and is supported by an itemized statement.”
Cohen v. Swacina, No. 07-cv-81049, 2009 WL 799430,
at *2 (S.D. Fla. Mar. 24, 2009).
Court finds, and the Commissioner acknowledges, that these
conditions are met and that Plaintiff is entitled to
attorney's fees under the EAJA. ( at 4). The
Commissioner, however, challenges the reasonableness of the
fee amount claimed, on the grounds that Plaintiff
“seeks compensation for an excessive number of
hours.” ( at 1). The Commissioner also requests
that the amount awarded be payable directly to Plaintiff.
Reasonableness of the Attorney's Fees Sought
EAJA provides for recovery of “reasonable
attorney's fees.” 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(2)(A).
Plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the hours
requested are reasonable. See Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 434 (1983). Reasonable hours are
“billable hours-that is, work that would be paid for by
a reasonable client of means seriously intent on vindicating
the rights in issue.” Perkins v. Mobile Hous.
Bd., 847 F.2d 735, 738 (11th Cir. 1988). “[A]
court may reduce excessive, redundant or otherwise
unnecessary hours in the exercise of billing judgment.”
Id. at 738. “Courts are not authorized to be
generous with the money of others, and it is as much the duty
of courts to see that excessive fees and expenses are not
awarded as it is to see that an adequate amount is
awarded.” Am. Civil Liberties Union of Georgia v.
Barnes, 168 F.3d 423, 428 (11th Cir. 1999).
Commissioner argues that Plaintiff improperly seeks
attorney's fees for “non-legal clerical
tasks.” ( at 4). “[A] fee applicant is not
entitled to compensation at an attorney's rate simply
because an attorney undertook tasks which were mundane,
clerical or which did not require the full exercise of an
attorney's education and judgment.” Norman v.
Hous. Auth. of City of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1306
(11th Cir. 1988). “The distinction between those tasks
that are billable and those that are not . . . turns on
whether a non-lawyer would lack the training, experience, and
judgment to complete the task at issue.” Allen v.
Colvin, No. 1:15-cv-130-ODE-JSA, at 3 (N.D.Ga. Oct. 18,
2016); see Ward v. Astrue, No. 3:11-cv-523, 2012 WL
1820578, at *3 (M.D. Fla. May 18, 2012) (denying recovery of
attorney's fees for “tasks encompass[ing] matters
that do not require counsel's use of her legal
skills”). “[P]aralegal time is recoverable as
part of a prevailing party's award for attorney's
fees and expenses, but only to the extent that the paralegal
performs work traditionally done by an
attorney.” Jean v. Nelson, 863 F.2d
759, 778 (11th Cir. 1988).
counsel exercised good “billing judgment” in
declining to bill the Commissioner for thirty-eight (38)
clerical tasks performed in this case. Barnes, 168
F.3d at 428. Having reviewed the billing records submitted by
Plaintiff's counsel, however, the Court declines to allow
recovery for the following additional clerical work described
in the ledger: “Assign Attorney writer to access/write
reply brief” (0.2 hours), “Review Civil case
terminated” (0.1 hours), “Files receive, reviewed
and processed from referral source for Attorney review”
(0.6 hours), “Telephone cal[l] with Client re:
Assistance with In Forma Pauperis Application” (0.4
hours), “Federal court forms packet sent to Client via
Right Signature” (0.2 hours), “Download, file and
save transcript in Seventeen (17) Parts” (0.6 hours),
“Strip PDF/A, combine, OCR and live bookmark Federal
Court transcript” (1.1 hours), and “Federal
Court-Remand Referral back to Referral Source” (0.3
hours). This constitutes 0.3 hours of attorney work ($56.79)
and 3.2 hours of paralegal work ($240) for which Plaintiff is
not entitled to recover fees.
Paralegal Billing Rate
Commissioner, in his response brief, argued that Plaintiff
“provided no basis for the paralegal rate for which she
seeks compensation-$75 an hour.” ( at 8).
Plaintiff, in her reply, provided the Court with the 2015
National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report,
published by the National Association of Legal Assistants.
([23.2]). The report identifies paralegal billing rates of
$128 per hour in Georgia and $111 per hour in New York, where
Plaintiff's counsel is located. ([23.2] at 5).
Plaintiff's paralegal rate of $75 per hour is reasonable
and adequately supported. See Allen v. Colvin, No.
1:15-cv-130-ODE-JSA, at 9 (N.D.Ga. Oct. 18, 2016) (relying on
the 2015 National Utilization and Compensation Survey Report
to establish the market rate for paralegal work in Georgia,
and concluding that, ...