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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:The district court awarded attorneys’ fees at $132.50 per hour, the going rate in the San Angelo and Abilene divisions of the Northern District of Texas. Appellants had requested attorneys’ fees at $152.61 per hour, the going rate in the Dallas division. Appellants contended that the 5th U.S. Circuit’s decision in Baker v. Bowen, 839 F.2d 1075 (5th Cir.1988), requires all district courts of the Northern District of Texas to apply a uniform rate for calculation of attorneys’ fees and that the district courts in San Angelo and Abilene, by deviating from the Dallas rate, abused their discretion. The court stated that the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), 28 U.S.C. �2412(d)(2)(A)(ii), vests the district courts with discretion to arrive at a reasonable rate for attorneys’ fees based on cost-of-living adjustments and other factors. Before Baker, the court stated, judge-by-judge exercise of rate-setting discretion under EAJA had resulted in “a multiplicity of conflicting views within the Dallas courts” and “confusion and bewilderment among the bar and litigants.” Concerned with this seemingly arbitrary application of the act’s factors, the Baker court remanded the case to the chief judge for a single rate determination to be applied “in all fee awards in the Dallas district courts.” The ruling, however, did not mandate rate uniformity across the entire federal district, the court stated. Although rate fluctuations among federal courts serving the same city are arbitrary, the court found that rate disparities between courts serving two different markets was more than reasonable and in fact expressly contemplated by the act itself. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court found that the San Angelo division did act arbitrarily in recognizing that San Angelo, when compared with Dallas, enjoys an agreeably low cost of living. Appellants urged the court to adopt the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rule, which requires uniform cost-of-living adjustments throughout each district. The 8th Circuit reasoned that “under ordinary circumstances . . . the cost of living affects each litigant within a judicial district to the same degree.” With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the court stated its reasons in declining to follow the 8th Circuit: “We take judicial notice of the vast beauty of the Great Plains, which we share, and of the natural wonders of the Missouri and Ozark Plateaus, which we envy, yet, we are also mindful of the difference in population density between our circuits.” The court stated it also disagreed with appellant’s alternative argument that the fee of $132.50 per hour was insufficient to secure adequate representation for San Angelo claimants. It stated its standard of review for a district court attorneys’ fees award under the EAJA is abuse of discretion, and the court did not find such an abuse. The district court had considered and rejected plaintiff’s request for a cost-of-living adjustment, on grounds that the $132.50 rate, which is already $7.50 higher than the statutory cap, adequately provides for representation throughout the division. The court found that decision within the district court’s discretion, stating that “while the statute clearly allows an adjustment for changes in the cost of living, it does not absolutely require it.” OPINION:Per curiam; King, Higginbotham and Garza, J.J.

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