Podgorny v. Barnhart

Filing 44

ORDER by Judge Maria-Elena James granting 39 Motion for Attorney Fees (mejlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 11/17/2008)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 INTRODUCTION Counsel for Plaintiff Victor Podgorny moves for $30,425.00 in attorney's fees for his representation of Podgorny before this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 406(b). Because the contingency fee agreement between Podgorny and his counsel for 25% of total past-due benefits is reasonable, the motion is granted. DISCUSSION Section 406(b) authorizes a district court to award attorney's fees where the case is remanded to the Social Security Administration for further proceedings and, following the remand, the claimant is subsequently awarded past-due benefits. 42 U.S.C. 406(b)(1)(A). In reviewing counsel's request for an award, the Court must ensure that the contingency fee agreement yields "reasonable results" under the circumstances. Gisbrecht v. Barnhart, 535 U.S. 789, 807 (2002). Factors relevant to the reasonableness determination include the character of the representation and the results achieved. Id. at 808. Attorney's fees may be reduced if the attorney is responsible for vs. JO ANNE B. BARNHART, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. / VICTOR PODGORNY, Plaintiff, No. C 04-5279 MEJ ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 United States District Court For the Northern District of California 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 delay or if the benefits are large in comparison to the amount of time counsel spent on the case, and must be reduced to the extent the fee requested exceeds 25% of the benefits awarded to the plaintiff. Id. at 807, 808. Here, counsel's request for attorney's fees in the total amount of $30,425.00 is reasonable in light of the legal standards set forth in Gisbrecht and the facts of this case. Counsel successfully appealed an initial denial of benefits and obtained desirable results for his client. Moreover, there is no evidence that counsel is responsible for any delay, or any basis for concluding that the total pastdue benefits awarded to Plaintiff - $121,702.40 - are large compared to the amount of time counsel spent on the case. CONCLUSION Based on this analysis, the Court approves counsel's request for $30,425.60 in attorney's fees pursuant to 406(b), to be paid out of Podgorny's past-due benefits, subject to the deduction of any fees paid to date. IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: November 17, 2008 MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge Page 2 of 2

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