Ibrahim v. US DHS, No. 14-16161 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff filed suit seeking monetary and equitable relief against various state and federal officials alleging 42 U.S.C. 1983 claims, state law tort claims, and constitutional claims based on her inclusion in the government’s terrorist databases, including the No-Fly List. After determining that plaintiff was a prevailing party, the district court found that the government was substantially justified respecting its pre-Ibrahim II standing arguments, its defense against plaintiff's visa-related claims, and its various privilege assertions. The court disallowed fees associated with those issues and otherwise found the government's conduct was not justified. On appeal, plaintiff challenged the district court’s award of attorney’s fees and expenses pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. 2412, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Hensley v. Eckerhart. Plaintiff contends, among other things, that the district court incorrectly found that the government had not acted in bad faith under EAJA section 2412(b) and therefore erred by declining to award market-rate fees. The court held that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Commissioner, INS v. Jean, the district court erred by making multiple substantial justification determinations. Therefore, the court reversed as to this issue. The court also reversed the district court’s various reductions imposed on plaintiff's eligible fees arising from its incorrect substantial justification analysis. However, the court affirmed the district court’s bad faith findings as well as its relatedness findings under Eckerhart, and the district court's striking of plaintiff's objections to the special master’s report on expenses.