Richlin Security Service filed a claim for attorney and paralegal fees after successfully prevailing in a contract dispute against the Department of Homeland Security. The Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) provides that a prevailing party is entitled to "fees and expenses" associated with a law suit, including "reasonable attorney fees," based on the "prevailing market rate," but not in excess of $125 per hour. An administrative appeals board determined that the EAJA treated paralegal services as "expenses," which are reimbursed based on the cost to the firm. Richlin had requested $95 per hour for its paralegal fees; the appeals board awared it $35 per hour in expenses.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed, concluding that paralegal services could not be treated as "fees" under the EAJA.
Under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 5 U.S.C. § 504(a)(l) and 28 U.S.C. § 2412(d)(1)(A), may a prevailing party be awarded attorney fees for paralegal services at the market rate for such services, as four circuits have held, or does EAJA limit reimbursement for paralegal services to cost only, as the Federal Circuit panel majority below held?