DECISION AWARDING INTERIM ATTORNEYS' FEES AND COSTS 1
HERBRINA D. SANDERS, Special Master.
On September 17, 2014, Jordia Nunez and John Diaz ("Petitioners") filed a petition on behalf of their deceased minor child, J.J.D., under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.
Petitioners previously requested and were awarded $12,000 in interim fees and costs as stipulated by the parties. Decision (Sept. 4, 2015), ECF No. 30. Interim fees and costs were awarded to their initial counsel, Mindy Michaels Roth.
Petitioners now seek an award of interim attorneys' fees in the amount of $18,536.50 and attorneys' costs in the amount of $11,603.26, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 300aa-15(e) (2012). Mot. Interim Att'ys' Fees and Costs (Dec. 21 2016), ECF No. 62. Respondent filed a response to Petitioners' motion for fees on January 5, 2107. Resp't's Resp. ("Resp."), ECF No. 64. Respondent deferred to the undersigned regarding whether an award of interim fees is appropriate in this matter, but also noted that "[P]etitioners themselves have neither incurred any costs nor suffered any undue hardship." Resp. at 2 n.2. Respondent then stated that he is otherwise "satisfied that the statutory and other legal requirements for an award of attorneys' fees and costs are met." Resp. at 2. Furthermore, Respondent stated that he is satisfied that there was a reasonable basis for this claim during Conway, Homer & Chin-Caplan's representation of Petitioners.
Interim fees may be paid at the discretion of the special master. See Avera v. Sec'y of HHS, 515 F.3d 1343, 1352 (Fed. Cir. 2008) ("Interim fees are particularly appropriate in cases where proceedings are protracted and costly experts must be retained.") While they are not routinely awarded, interim fees may be awarded when petitioner's counsel withdraws from a case. See, e.g., Woods v. Sec'y of HHS, 105 Fed. Cl. 148, 154 (2012). Shortly after filing their application for interim attorneys' fees and costs, Petitioners filed a Motion to Substitute Attorney Sylvia Chin-Caplan in place of Ronald C. Homer. This case has been pending for thirty-two months and is tentatively set for an entitlement hearing in 2018. Because of the protracted nature of these proceedings, the withdrawal of Ron Homer as counsel of record, and the substitution of Sylvia Chin-Caplan, the undersigned finds that it is appropriate to award interim attorneys' fees and costs to the Conway Homer firm at this time.
The undersigned would like to emphasize that interim fees and costs are not routinely awarded. Woods, 105 Fed. Cl. 148, 154 (2012). Interim fees and costs are the exception, rather than the rule. However, based on the overall circumstances of this case and the reasonableness of Petitioners' request, the undersigned
The undersigned has reviewed Petitioners' former counsel's detailed records of time and expenses incurred in this case, and they are reasonable.