Shields v. Astrue
ORDER - Granting plaintiff's Motion for an award of fees under section 406(b) in the amount of $17,850.00. (Doc. 40 ). It is further ORDERED that upon receipt of this award, plaintiff's counsel shall refund to plaintiff the fee awarded under the Equal Access to Justice Act ($4,461.21)(doc. 37 ). See document for further details. Signed by Senior Judge Frederick J Martone on 06/15/15. (ATD)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA
Carolyn W. Colvin,
The court has before it plaintiff's Motion for an award of fees under 42 U.S.C.
15 section 406(b) (doc. 40), Memorandum (doc. 41), defendant's Response (doc. 43) and
16 plaintiff's Reply (doc. 44). Plaintiff seeks an award of fees of $29,626.00, representing
17 25% of past due benefits. Having billed 25.5 hours, this represents an hourly rate of
18 $1,161.80. Plaintiff acknowledges that the hourly rate is "high," but argues that it is "not
19 unreasonable." Reply at 2. (doc. 44). Defendant acknowledges that it is not a party to a
20 fee award under section 406(b), unlike the earlier award under the Equal Access to
21 Justice Act, but invites us to scrutinize the request because it is so much higher than
22 awards it has identified in its Response at 3 (doc. 43).
The test, of course, is one of reasonableness. In awarding fees under the Equal
2 Access to Justice Act, we declined to award a special factor enhancement because we
3 saw this as a routine case not involving complex issues. Order of Aug. 22, 2011, at 2.
4 (doc. 37). Here, we have past due benefits that are relatively large compared to the
5 amount of time spent on the case. Moreover, the itemization of services, doc. 41-3,
6 shows just how little was required to process this case. Although we acknowledge that
7 contingent fees must be adjusted to accommodate cases that are lost, we nevertheless
8 conclude that the request here is unreasonable. We think a fee at about twice a
9 reasonable hourly rate in this community is high enough to accommodate the risk of
10 losses. Much beyond that is excessive. Accordingly, we reduce the request to
11 $17,850.00 (25.5 hours @ $700.00 per hour).
It is therefore ORDERED GRANTING plaintiff's Motion for an award of fees
13 under section 406(b) in the amount of $17,850.00. (Doc. 40). It is further ORDERED
14 that upon receipt of this award, plaintiff's counsel shall refund to plaintiff the fee awarded
15 under the Equal Access to Justice Act ($4,461.21)(doc. 37).
Dated this 15th day of June, 2015.
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