United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees
pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”). (Doc. no. 18.) For the reasons set
forth below, the Court REPORTS and
RECOMMENDS Plaintiff's motion for
attorneys' fees be GRANTED IN PART, and
Plaintiff be AWARDED attorneys' fees in
the amount of $4, 463.50 and expenses in the amount of $16
pursuant to the EAJA.
12, 2018, Chief United States District Judge J. Randal Hall
granted a reversal and remand pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) in the above-captioned social security
appeal, and a judgment was entered in Plaintiff's favor.
(Doc. nos. 16, 17.) Plaintiff now moves for $4, 730.13 in
attorneys' fees and $242.00 in costs and expenses under
the EAJA. (Doc. no. 18.) The Commissioner opposes
Plaintiff's motion, arguing Plaintiff is not entitled to
attorneys' fees for 1.35 expended hours, which constitute
non-compensable clerical time, and $226.00 in costs for
filing a pro hac vice application. (Doc. no. 19.)
Plaintiff is Not Entitled to Compensation for Clerical
Court has discretion to deny or reduce the amount of an award
for fees incurred by preparation of certain documents.
See U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(C). Attorneys are not
entitled to compensation at an attorney's rate for
clerical tasks or tasks that do not require the full exercise
of an attorney's education and judgment. See Mobley
v. Apfel, 104 F.Supp.2d 1357, 1360 (M.D. Fla. 2000)
(“[T]asks of a clerical nature are not compensable as
attorney's fees . . . under the EAJA.”); Clover
v. Colvin, CV 314-154, doc. no. 26 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 29,
2016) (holding plaintiff not entitled to attorneys' fees
for clerical tasks).
Plaintiff seeks compensation for numerous clerical tasks
including filing cover sheets, summons, and in forma
pauperis forms, sending summons and complaint by mail,
filing proof of service, preparing summons and cover sheets,
and receiving executed summons. (See doc. no. 18-5.)
Because these tasks are clerical, Plaintiff is not entitled
to attorneys' fees and the Court reduces Plaintiff's
award of attorneys' fees from $4, 730.13 to $4, 463.50.
Reasonableness of the Requested Fee
U.S.C. § 2412 provides that a judgment for costs shall
be limited to reimbursing in whole or in part the prevailing
party for the costs incurred in the litigation, with the
Court having discretion over the amount awarded. 28 U.S.C.
§ 2412 (a)(1), (d)(1)(C). Costs related to obtaining pro
hac vice admission are non-compensable costs of doing
business and are not chargeable to the federal government.
See Adams v. Colvin, CV 114-104, doc. no. 26 (S.D.
Ga. June 2, 2017) (holding plaintiff could not recover cost
of obtaining pro hac vice admission and cost of obtaining
certificate of good standing); Bookman v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec., No. 6:08-CV-1986-ORL-28, 2011 WL 12497233, at
*3 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 2, 2011) report and recommendation
adopted, No. 6:08-CV-1986-ORL-28, 2011 WL 6057506 (M.D.
Fla. Dec. 6, 2011) (holding time related to obtaining pro hac
vice admission is non-compensable). The EAJA does not require
the government to fund the enhancement of an attorney's
versatility or capability through funding pro hac vice
admissions. See Role Models Am., Inc. v. Brownlee,
353 F.3d 962, 973 (D.C. Cir. 2004) (quoting Miller v.
Alamo, 983 F.2d 856, 862 (8th Cir. 1993)). Consequently,
Plaintiff cannot recover the cost of obtaining pro hac vice
admission and obtaining a certificate of good standing, and
the Court reduces Plaintiff's cost and expense recovery
from $242 to $16.
The Fees are Payable to Plaintiff
Astrue v. Ratliff, 560 U.S. 586, 589 (2010), the
Supreme Court held, based on the “plain text” of
28 U.S.C. § 2412(d), that an EAJA award “is
payable to the litigant and is therefore subject to a
Government offset to satisfy a pre-existing debt that the
litigant owes the United States.” Based on
Ratliff, the proper course is to “award the
EAJA fees directly to Plaintiff as the prevailing party and
remain silent regarding the direction of payment of those
fees.” Bostic v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 858
F.Supp.2d 1301, 1306 (M.D. Fla. 2011). Indeed, this approach
has been followed in this District. See Shank v.
Berryhill, CV 116-030, doc. no. 20 (S.D. Ga. May 24,
2017) (awarding EAJA fees to plaintiff without directing
payment to counsel despite plaintiff's assignment of
award to counsel); Brown v. Astrue, CV 411-152, doc.
no. 24 (S.D. Ga. Mar. 4, 2013) (same); Scott v.
Colvin, CV 313-004, doc. no. 26 (S.D. Ga. Nov. 11, 2013)
accord with this practice, the Court awards the EAJA fees to
Plaintiff, subject to offset by any debt owed by Plaintiff to
the United States. The Court leaves it “to the
discretion of the government to accept Plaintiff's
assignment of EAJA Fees and pay fees directly to
Plaintiff['s] counsel after a determination that
Plaintiff does not owe a federal debt.”
Bostic, 858 F.Supp.2d at 1306; see also Robinson
v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 8:13-CV-2073-T-23TGW,
2015 WL 176027, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 13, 2015) (allowing
EAJA fees “to be paid by virtue of a fee assignment, to
plaintiff's counsel by the defendant if the plaintiff
does not owe a debt to the United States Department of the
Treasury”); Griffin v. Astrue, 1:10cv115, 2010
WL 5211548, at *3 (W.D. N.C. Dec. 16, 2010) (“There is
nothing in Ratliff to indicate that it is intended
to divest the government of its discretion to enter into
direct payment arrangements where there is no debt to the
government or where funds remain after satisfaction of such