Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Golden v. Gibson

Golden v. Gibson, docket no. 04-1385(E) (June 25, 2014)
Held: Attorney travel time is compensable at the full hourly rate under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), as long as the fees are reasonable.

Veteran’s attorney traveled from Montgomery, Alabama to Washington, DC, for oral arguments at the Federal Circuit. The appeal was successful and the attorney submitted an EAJA application, which included travel time billed at the full hourly rate. The Secretary of VA disputed the travel fees, arguing that billing for travel time at the full hourly rate was not reasonable. The CAVC noted that it wanted to encourage attorney representation of veterans and found that because it and the Federal Circuit “are courts of national jurisdiction with the majority of claimants and attorneys living outside of Washington, D.C., travel time may often be required.” The Court held that, in this case, the fees billed for travel time at the full hourly rate was reasonable.

The Court also addressed the reasonableness of other fees and expenses, including the billing for time spent on briefs before it and the Federal Circuit (reasonable); over $3,000 of photocopying (unreasonable); legal research (reasonable); fee to doctor for medical opinion (reasonable); drafting and reading letters, conference calls, preparing appendices for briefs, reading orders and filings (too vague, reduced fees); reading claims file (duplicative, reduced fees); drafting substantive pleadings (reasonable); preparing EAJA application (reasonable).

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