Limle v. Commissioner of Social Security

Middle District of Florida, flmd-8:2017-cv-00273

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS re {{25}} Unopposed MOTION for Attorney Fees Pursuant to EAJA filed by Tina M. Limle. Signed by Magistrate Judge Mark A. Pizzo on 3/29/2018. (ACS)

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PageID 1266 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA TAMPA DIVISION TINA LIMLE, Plaintiff, v. CASE NO.: 8:17-CV-273-T-30MAP NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. _____________________________________/ REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION Before me is Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion for Attorney's Fees Pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (doc. 25).1 Plaintiff seeks payment of attorney's fees in the amount of $7,537.46 to be paid directly to Plaintiff's counsel pursuant to the EAJA.2 On December 27, 2017, the District Judge entered an Order adopting my Report and Recommendation and remanding this case for further proceedings (doc. 23); judgment in Plaintiff's favor was entered the next day (doc. 24).3 In Reeves v. Astrue, 526 F.3d 732 (11th Cir. 2008), the Eleventh Circuit held that an EAJA fee award is awarded to the "prevailing party," not to counsel. However, in this case, the Plaintiff has agreed to assign the EAJA award to her counsel (doc. 27), and Plaintiff indicates that the 1 This District Judge has referred this matter to me. 2 The amount Plaintiff seeks in fees represents 38.2 hours of total attorney time. Specifically, attorney Enrique Escarraz requests fees at the rate of $188.47 per hour for 0.5 hours of work performed in 2016, $197.32 per hour for 36.8 hours of work performed in 2017, and $199.48 per hour for 0.9 hours of work in 2018 (doc. 25). 3 The plaintiff in a social security case has 30 days beyond the 60-day appeal window to apply for fees and other expenses under the EAJA, for a total of 90 days after judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(B), (d)(2)(G); Fed. R. App. P. 4(a)(1)(B); Gates v. Barnhart, 325 F. Supp. 2d 1342, 1343 (M.D. Fla. 2002). In this case, Plaintiff timely filed her application for fees on March 23, 2018 (doc. 25). PageID 1267 Defendant does not oppose the request for attorney's fees. Therefore, by virtue of the fee assignment and the Defendant's lack of opposition, the award is payable to Plaintiff's counsel. Accordingly, I RECOMMEND: 1. Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion for Attorney's Fees (doc. 25) be GRANTED; and 2. Plaintiff be awarded attorney's fees in the amount of $7,537.46, to be paid directly to Plaintiff's counsel, if Plaintiff does not owe a debt to the Government.4 IT IS SO RECOMMENDED at Tampa, Florida on March 29, 2018. NOTICE TO PARTIES A party has fourteen days from this date to file written objections to the Report and Recommendation's factual findings and legal conclusions. A party's failure to file written objections waives that party's right to challenge on appeal any unobjected-to factual finding or legal conclusion the district judge adopts from the Report and Recommendation. See 11th Cir. R. 3-1. 4 The Commissioner will determine whether Plaintiff owes a debt to the government. If he does, fees shall be made payable to Plaintiff and delivered to Plaintiff's counsel for the purpose of satisfying the debt. 2