United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ROBERT K. SANTANA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT IN PART AND DENY
IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS'
KENNETH J. MANSFIELD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Robert K. Santana (“Plaintiff”) filed a Motion
for Attorneys' Fees (“Motion”) on June 23,
2017. See ECF No. 23. On July 20, 2017, Defendant
Nancy A. Berryhill, acting Commissioner of Social Security
Administration (“Defendant”), filed an Opposition
to the Motion. See ECF No. 26. On July 24, 2017,
Plaintiff filed her Reply. See ECF No. 27.
Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a
hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of
Practice for the United States District Court for the
District of Hawaii (“Local Rules”). After
carefully reviewing the filings and the record in this case,
the Court FINDS and RECOMMENDS that the district court GRANT
IN PART and DENY IN PART Plaintiff's Motion.
matter arises from Plaintiff's appeal of the Social
Security Administration Commissioner's denial of Social
Security disability insurance benefits to Plaintiff. On April
3, 2017, the district court issued its Order Reversing the
Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security and Remanding
for Further Proceedings (“4/3/17 Order”).
See ECF No. 20. On April 20, 2017, the Clerk of
Court entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. See
ECF No. 21.
timely filed his Motion on June 23, 2017. In the Motion,
Plaintiff seeks to recover attorneys' fees he incurred in
this action. On July 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Statement of
Consultation, indicating that the parties' counsel had
met and conferred pursuant to Local Rule 54.3, but were
unable to reach a settlement as to the Motion.
Entitlement to Fees
requests an award of attorneys' fees pursuant to, among
other things, the Equal Access to Justice Act
(“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. § 2412. See ECF
No. 23 at 2. Under the EAJA, a prevailing party is entitled
to an award of attorneys' fees absent special
[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 . . . 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). Defendant does not dispute
that Plaintiff is a prevailing party or that the position of
the United States was not substantially justified in
opposition to this action. Instead, Defendant only disputes
the reasonableness of Plaintiff's fee request.
Calculation of Award
use the lodestar method set forth in Hensley v.
Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433 (1983), to calculate an
award of reasonable attorneys' fees in cases brought
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The Ninth Circuit Court of
Appeals has previously applied the Hensley lodestar
method to attorneys' fee requests under the EAJA. See
Costa v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 690 F.3d 1132,
1135 (9th Cir. 2012) (citations omitted) (“This court
applies the principles set forth in Hensley- and
other cases interpreting 42 U.S.C. § 1988-to determine
what constitutes a reasonable fee award under the
EAJA.”); Atkins v. Apfel, 154 F.3d 986, 989
(9th Cir. 1998). “Under the lodestar method, the
district court multiplies the number of hours the prevailing
party reasonably expended on the litigation by a reasonable
hourly rate.” Gonzalez v. City of Maywood, 729
F.3d 1196, 1202 (9th Cir. 2013).
requests the following lodestar amount for work performed in
Diane C. Haar, Esq. (“Ms. Haar”)
ECF No. 23-3 at 3. Ms. Haar submitted a Declaration in
support of the Motion (“Haar Declaration”).
See ECF No. 23-2. According to the Haar Declaration,
Ms. Haar graduated from law school in 2003, and has been
practicing social security law since 2008. See Id.
at ¶ 5. Ms. Haar also states that she has “pursued
approximately 1, 000 cases before the Social ...