Wednesday, May 13, 2009

EAJA - attorney fees - substantially justified - totality of circumstances

Segers v. Astrue - ED Pa. - May 8, 2009

Noting that neither the Supreme Court nor the Third Circuit Court of Appeals has outlined the correct focus or level of generality for deciding whether the Commissioner’s position was “substantially justified,” and other courts have set forth differing approaches, the court adopted the this Court will adopt a "reasoned approach" in the “totality of the circumstances” method of analysis that examines the entirety of the government’s position in litigation when determining substantial justification, . See Roanoke River Basin Assoc. v. Hudson, 991 F.2d 132, 139 (4th Cir. 1993); Jackson v. Chater, 94 F.3d 274, 278 (7th Cir. 1996); Williams, 595 F. Supp. 2d at 586; Corona, 431 F. Supp. 2d at 514. See also Williams v. Astrue, 595 F. Supp. 2d 582, 585-86 (E.D. Pa. 2009) (comparing the approaches of different courts); Corona, 431 F. Supp. 2d at 512-13 (E.D. Pa. 2006) (same).

In this case, "applying a 'totality of the circumstances' approach, it is clear that the Commissioner had (1) a reasonable basis in truth for the facts alleged; (2) a reasonable basis in law for the theory it propounded; and (3) a reasonable connection between the facts alleged and the legal theory advanced. See Morgan 142 F.3d at 684. Accordingly, the Court is satisfied that the ALJ acted reasonably and the Commissioner’s position was substantially justified, and the Court denies Ms. Segers’s motion for attorney’s fees."