United States District Court, D. Nevada
MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
prevailed in this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's denial of his application for Social
Security Disability Insurance benefits. (ECF No. 22.) The
Court granted his motion for attorney's fees pursuant to
the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28
U.S.C. § 2412, awarding attorney's fees in the
amount of $6, 831.51 and costs in the amount of $411.55,
subject to offset allowed under the Treasury Offset Program.
(ECF No. 26 at 2.) Before the Court is Plaintiff's motion
for approval of attorney's fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 406(b) (“Motion”), requesting fees in the
amount of $17, 748.25. (ECF Nos. 28, 30.) The Commissioner
responds to the Motion, but it declines to take a position as
to the reasonableness of the fees requested. (ECF No. 29.)
October 9, 2014, Plaintiff filed his Complaint seeking
judicial review of a final denial of his application for
disability benefits under the Social Security Act
(“SSA”) (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff subsequently moved
to remand (ECF No. 14) while the Commissioner sought to
affirm the administrative law judge's (“ALJ”)
decision (ECF No. 15). After full briefing on the
parties' competing motions, the Magistrate Judge
recommended granting Plaintiff's request to remand,
finding that the ALJ erred in failing to address certain
medical opinion and properly consider all the functional
limitations contained in that opinion. (ECF No. 20.) The
Commissioner did not object. The Court subsequently adopted
the Magistrate Judge's recommendation. (ECF No. 22.)
remand, the ALJ found Plaintiff disabled (ECF No. 28-3 at 17)
and awarded Plaintiff past-due benefits from June 2013
through June 2016 in the amount of $70, 993.00 and withheld
$17, 748.25 from the total past due benefits for purpose of
compensating Plaintiff's representatives. (ECF No. 28-2
at 1-3.) The fee agreement between Plaintiff and his counsel,
John C. Boyden, provides for fee to counsel up to 25% of the
total back benefits awarded. (ECF No. 28-1.) Plaintiff also
agreed that his counsel may request additional fees and costs
under the EAJA in the event of an appeal. (Id.) The
amount of fees requested here amounts to 25% of the total
past benefits awarded.
Supreme Court has found, the statutory scheme established
under the SSA “deals with the administrative and
judicial review stages discretely: § 406(a) governs fees
for representation in administrative proceedings; §
406(b) controls fees for representation in court.”
Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 794 (2002).
Because the Motion seeks fees in connection with
Plaintiff's representation in the case, the Court will
address the Motion under section 406(b).
406(b)(1)(A) provides, in pertinent part, that
“[w]henever a court renders a judgment favorable to a
claimant . . . the court may determine and allow as part of
its judgment a reasonable fee [to claimant's counsel] for
such representation, not in excess of 25 percent of the total
of the past-due benefits to which the claimant is entitled by
reason of such judgment.” 42 U.S.C. §
406(b)(1)(A). In Gisbrecht, the Supreme Court
clarified that courts must respect “the primacy of the
lawful attorney-client fee agreements.”
Gisbrecht, 535 U.S. at 793. Where, as here, the
claimant and her counsel have entered into a contingency-fee
agreement, courts must “review for reasonableness fees
yielded by those agreements.” Id. at 809.
“Performance of that duty must begin, under
Gisbrecht with the fee agreement, and the question
is whether the amount need be reduced, not whether the
loadstar amount should be enhanced.” Crawford v.
Astrue, 586 F.3d 1142, 1149 (9th Cir. 2009). A district
may reduce a fee resulting from a contingency-fee agreement
on reasonableness ground “if the attorney provided
substandard representation or engaged in dilatory conduct in
order to increase the accrued amount of past-due benefits, or
if the benefits are large in comparison to the amount of time
counsel spent on the case.” Id. at 1148
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted.) The attorney
requesting the fees bears the burden of establishing the
reasonableness of the fees sought. Id.
Court finds that Plaintiffs counsel has satisfied his burden
of establishing the reasonableness of the fees requested
here, considering counsel's representation of Plaintiff
in the case before the Court, including the substantial
amount of time devoted to preparing the briefs relating to
the motion to remand and opposing the cross motion to affirm.
Accordingly, the Court will grant the Motion.
therefore ordered that Plaintiffs motion for attorney's
fees (ECF No. 28) is granted. The later filed motion for
attorney's fees (ECF No. 30) is denied as moot.
further ordered that the check to Plaintiff's counsel be
sent to the address identified in the proposed order filed as
ECF No. 28-6.
The second motion is essentially the
same as the first filed motion for ...