United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CLIFFORD J. PROUD UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiff's Motion for
Attorney's Fees Under the Equal Access to Justice Act.
(Doc. 43). Defendant filed a response in opposition at Doc.
44 and plaintiff filed a reply at Doc. 45.
parties have agreed that plaintiff is entitled to an award in
the amount of $6, 100.00. However, the Commissioner opposes
plaintiff's request of an additional $400 for the filing
Court finds that plaintiff is the prevailing party and is
entitled to an award of attorney's fees pursuant to the
Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. §2412(d)(1)(B).
The Court further finds that the agreed upon amount is
reasonable and appropriate.
Commissioner's objection to plaintiff's request for
the $400 filing fee primarily takes issue with the source of
reimbursement. The Commissioner argues that any cost should
be paid from Social Security's fund rather than the
Judgment Fund. Under 28 USCA § 2412(a)(1) she is
entitled to reimbursement of costs regardless of which fund
they are paid from.
Commissioner seems to argue that awarding the cost of the
filing fee would be unjust because the U.S. Attorney's
office is a separate and distinct body apart from Social
Security Administration and the U.S. Attorney's Office
had no control over plaintiff's claim prior to this
action. The Commissioner cites 28 U.S.C.A. § 2412
(d)(3). This subparagraph only governs adversary adjudication
and “agency proceedings to determine social security
benefit allowances are not adversarial in nature, since the
United States is not represented by counsel.”
Cummings v. Sullivan, 950 F.2d 492, 496 (7th Cir.
1991) (citation omitted). The Commissioner cites no authority
to support its claim that the U.S. Attorney's Office and
the Social Security Administration's relationship should
impede plaintiff's claim for costs.
EAJA does not distinguish between different bodies within the
government, rather “‘United States' includes
any agency and any official of the United States acting in
his or her official capacity.'” 28 U.S.C.A.
§2412(d)(2)(C). Whether the fault is that of the
Administrative Law Judge, the Appeals Council, or the
Commissioner's lawyers in court, the fault lies with the
United States and the United States is liable for costs and
fees. See, e.g., Cummings, 950 F.2d at 496-97
(holding that courts must consider both the pre-litigation
and litigation positions of the United States, regardless of
whether the agent was the Appeals Council prior to litigation
or the Commissioner, through her attorneys, during
case at hand the U.S. Attorney's Office has acted and
represented itself as the Commissioner's representative
before this Court. A member of the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the Southern District of Illinois signed each document
filed by the Commissioner in this case. Claiming that the
U.S. Attorney's Office and the Social Security
Administration are separate and distinct but allowing one
individual to represent both entities simultaneously before
the Court is contradictory.
the Commissioner cites no precedent that the reimbursement of
filing fees is a “special” circumstance and
therefore makes the award of costs unjust. Several cases from
within the Seventh Circuit have allowed for the filing fees
to be paid from the judgment fund pursuant to 31 U.S.C.
§ 1304. Russell v. Astrue, No.
11-CV-0666-MJR-CJP, 2012 WL 4060060, at *1 (S.D. Ill. Sept.
14, 2012); U.S. v. Thouvenot, Wade & Moerschen,
Inc., 596 F.3d 378 (7th Cir. 2010). Cardenas v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., No. 4:14-CV-04090-JEH, 2016 WL
900623, at *2 (C.D. Ill. Mar. 9, 2016); Southerland v.
Colvin, No. 114CV01177TWPMJD, 2016 WL 233613, at *1
(S.D. Ind. Jan. 19, 2016).
plaintiff's Motion for Attorney's Fees Under the
Equal Access to Justice Act (Doc. 43) is GRANTED.
Court awards attorney's fees in the amount of $6, 100
(six thousand one hundred dollars) plus $400 in costs. (The
$400 in costs shall be paid from the Judgment Fund of the
United States Treasury.)
amount awarded is payable to plaintiff and is subject to
set-off for any debt owed by plaintiff to the United States,
per Astrue v. Ratliff, 130 S.Ct. 2521 (2010).
However, any amount that is not used to satisfy an
outstanding debt shall be made payable to plaintiff's